פרופ' יובל ניר

פיזיולוגיה ופרמקולוגיה סגל אקדמי בכיר
פרופ' יובל ניר

Positions

Principal Investigator, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine

 

Research

Sleep and Its Relation to Cognition

Sleep is a universal behavior that is present across the animal kingdom. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, disconnected from the world around us. Our sleep is closely regulated so that when we are sleep deprived, we ultimately compensate with longer, deeper sleep. Sleep helps our cognitive performance, promoting learning and memory consolidation. Lack of sleep immediately affects our cognition, mood, and health. All this suggests that sleep is essential, but what exactly is it about brain activity during sleep that is so crucial for restoring our normal cognition?

 

Sleep also involves dramatic changes to our perceptual awareness. Sometimes our consciousness fades altogether while at other times we experience vivid dreams. Although our brain continues to be active, we are mostly disconnected from sensory signals such as sounds, which would otherwise be perceived, trigger plasticity and result in behavior. How does the internal state of brain activity during sleep affect brain responsiveness and perceptual awareness?

 

Our goal is to understand how sleep relates to cognition and perception. Our research is guided by a belief that such studies require a combination of human and animal models. We therefore use multiple experimental techniques, focusing on the strengths of each setup to investigate the same key questions synergistically. Animal models are used to investigate underlying mechanisms, by performing detailed recordings of electrical activity and by manipulating neuronal activity with optogenetic, electrical and sensory stimulation. Human studies are carried out for careful investigation of cognitive factors and for studying large-scale brain activity (with fMRI, EEG, recordings in neurosurgical patients, and behavioral tests).

 

Publications

Sela Y, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Nir Y. Responses in rat core auditory cortex are preserved during sleep spindle oscillations. Sleep. 2016;39:1069-82.

 

Andrillon T, Nir Y, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Fried I.Singleneuron activity and eye movements during human REM sleep and awake vision. Nat Commun. 2015;6:7884.

 

Nir Y, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Banks MI, Tononi G. Auditory responses and stimulus-specific adaptation in rat auditory cortex are preserved across NREM and REM sleep. Cerebral Cortex. 2015;25:1362-78.

 

Gilaie-Dotan S, Hahamy-Dubossarsky A, Nir Y, Berkovich-Ohana A, Bentin S, Malach R. Resting state functional connectivity reflects abnormal task-activated patterns in a developmental object agnosic. Neuroimage. 2013;70:189-98.

 

Ovadia-Caro S, Nir Y, Soddu A, Ramot M, Hesselmann G, Vanhaudenhuyse A, Dinstein I, Tshibanda JF, Boly M, Harel M, Laureys S, Malach R. Reduction in inter-hemispheric connectivity in disorders of consciousness. PLoS One. 2012;7:e37238.

 

Brennan J, Nir Y, Hasson U, Malach R, Heeger DJ, Pylkkänen L. Syntactic structure building in the anterior temporal lobe during natural story listening. Brain and Language. 2012; 120:163-173.

 

Soddu A, Vanhaudenhuyse A, Bahri MA, Bruno MA, Boly M, Demertzi A, Tshibanda JF, Phillips C, Stanziano M, Ovadia-Caro S, Nir Y, Maquet P, Papa M, Malach R, Laureys S, Noirhomme Q. Identifying the default-mode component in spatial IC analyses of patients with disorders of consciousness. Human Brain Mapping. 2012. 33:778-96.

 

Andrillon T*, Nir Y*, Staba RJ, Ferrarelli F, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Fried I. Sleep spindles in humans: insights from intracranial EEG and unit recordings. Journal of Neuroscience. 2011;31:17821-34. (* equal contribution)

 

Vyazovskiy VV, Olcese U, Hanlon EC, Nir Y, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Local sleep in awake rats. Nature. 2011;472:443-7.

 

Nir Y, Staba RJ, Andrillon T, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Fried I, Tononi G. Regional slow waves and spindles in human sleep. Neuron. 2011;70:153-69.

 

Mukamel R, Nir Y, Harel M, Arieli A, Malach R, Fried I. Invariance of firing rate and field potential dynamics to stimulus modulation rate in human auditory cortex. Human Brain Mapping. 2011; 32:1181-1193.

 

 

Reviews

Nir Y, Tononi G. Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2010;14:88-100.

 

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