Substantive nature of sleep in updating the temporal conditions necessary for inducing units of internal sensations

Sleep Science 9 (2016)
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Unlike other organs that operate continuously, such as the heart and kidneys, many of the operations of the nervous system shut down during sleep. The evolutionarily conserved unconscious state of sleep that puts animals at risk from predators indicates that it is an indispensable integral part of systems operation. A reasonable expectation is that any hypothesis for the mechanism of the nervous system functions should be able to provide an explanation for sleep. In this regard, the semblance hypothesis is examined. Postsynaptic membranes are continuously being depolarized by the quantally released neurotransmitter molecules arriving from their presynaptic terminals. In this context, an incidental lateral activation of the postsynaptic membrane is expected to induce a semblance (cellular hallucination of arrival of activity from its presynaptic terminal, which forms a unit for internal sensation) of the arrival of activity from its presynaptic terminal as a systems property. This restricts induction of semblance to a context of a very high ratio of the duration of the default state of neurotransmitter-induced postsynaptic depolarization to the total duration of incidental lateral activations of the postsynaptic membrane. This requirement spans within a time-bin of a few sleep-wake cycles. Since the duration of quantal release remains maximized, the above requirement can be achieved only by ceiling the total duration of incidental lateral activations of the postsynaptic membrane, which necessitates a state of sleep.

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Kunjumon Vadakkan
University of Manitoba


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