Early-life sleep disruption increases parvalbumin in primary somatosensory cortex and impairs social bonding in prairie voles

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Science Advances  30 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaav5188
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav5188


Across mammals, juveniles sleep more than adults, with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep at a lifetime maximum early in life. One function of REM sleep may be to facilitate brain development of complex behaviors. Here, we applied 1 week of early-life sleep disruption (ELSD) in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), a highly social rodent species that forms lifelong pair bonds. Electroencephalographic recordings from juvenile voles during ELSD revealed decreased REM sleep and reduced γ power compared to baseline. ELSD impaired pair bond formation and altered object preference in adulthood. Furthermore, ELSD increased GABAergic parvalbumin immunoreactivity in the primary somatosensory cortex in adulthood, a brain region relevant to both affected behaviors. We propose that, early in life, sleep is crucial for tuning inhibitory neural circuits and the development of species-typical affiliative social behavior.

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