Cendra Agulhon



Conference room R229
Campus Saint Germain des Prés de l'Université de Paris, 45 rue des Saints Pères, Paris 6e


22 Oct 2021


10 h 30 min - 23 h 30 min


Neuroscience Seminar Series

When the locus coeruleus speaks up in sleep: advancing the neurobiology of sensory vigilance, by Anita Lüthi

Sumary When the locus coeruleus speaks up in sleep: advancing the neurobiology of sensory vigilance

There is no doubt that sleep is quite the opposite of wakefulness. Behaviorally, meaningful interactions with the environment are suppressed; neurobiologically, wake-promoting brain areas are silent. However, since decades we know that at least some wake-promoting areas continue to discharge action potentials during sleep – sparsely, but consistently. My talk will show that sleep-related activity in the locus coeruleus (LC), the major noradrenergic area of the brain known for its powerful wake-promoting actions, has so far been underestimated for sleep’s behavioral, architectural and neurobiological assets. Using closed-loop optogenetic interrogation of LC activity during sleep, imaging of free noradrenaline levels in forebrain and heart rate monitoring in combination with global and local sleep recordings, we find that LC activity leads to pulsatile increases in the levels of noradrenaline on the infraslow  (~50-sec) time scale during non-REM sleep, while its levels decline during REM sleep. On this same time scale, LC activity variations play a role in sleep architecture and regulation, spectral dynamics in the forebrain, and the coordination of autonomic output. Together, my talk will make the case for a renewal of the dichotomous view on sleep and wakefulness, emphasizing that wake-related activity intruding into sleep is inextricably linked to the physiology of mammalian sleep and will, most likely, turn out to be a culprit in its manifold disruptions in pathophysiological conditions.

Short CV

Anita Lüthi leads a research group at the Department of Fundamental Neurosciences at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She studied Biology and Physics at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and obtained her PhD in 1995 at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zürich, Switzerland, working with Prof. Beat Gähwiler. She carried out post-doctoral work with Prof. David McCormick and Prof. Pietro De Camilli at Yale University, and with Prof. Steve Siegelbaum at Columbia University, identifying the molecular, ionic and synaptic signaling pathways underlying the rhythmicity of sleep waves. After returning to Switzerland, she started a Junior Research Group at the University of Basel and then moved to the University of Lausanne as an Assistant Professor in 2008, where she became promoted to Associate Professor in 2014.
She has a long-standing interest in the interplay between sleep rhythms and brain functions in mammals. Her research has brought together scientists from the fields of neuroscience and sleep, working on mouse or human, to address the consequences of insufficient sleep for brain circuits and synapses, the circuit mechanisms that regulate sleep globally and locally, and their role in brain plasticity. Beyond her work on sleep, she found that sleep-related brain circuits take over highly dedicated functions during wakefulness, such as the control of head direction during spatial navigation.
She has published in major neuroscience journals, she has received several awards and she is the President of the Swiss Neuroscience Society and Scientific Committee member of the European Sleep Research Societies. She also serves on the Editorial Boards on European and American Neuroscience Journals. She has given Keynote Lectures and Symposium talks at major international conferences, such as the American Society for Neuroscience, the Federation of the European Neuroscience Societies, the European Sleep Research Society, and the International Forum of the Russian Sleep Society.

Health pass and mask are required to attend.