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A Layered Control Architecture of Sleep and Arousal


Sleep and wakefulness are promoted not by a single neural pathway but via wake or sleep-promoting nodes distributed across layers of the brain. We equate each layer with a brain region in proposing a layered subsumption model for arousal based on a computational architecture. Beyond the brainstem the layers include the diencephalon (hypothalamus, thalamus), basal ganglia, and cortex. In light of existing empirical evidence, we propose that each layer have sleep and wake computations driven by similar high-level architecture and processing units. Specifically, an interconnected wake-promoting system is suggested as driving arousal in each brain layer with the processing converging to produce the features of wakefulness. In contrast, sleep-promoting GABAergic neurons largely project to and inhibit wake-promoting neurons. We propose a general pattern of caudal wake-promoting and sleep-promoting neurons having a strong effect on overall behavior. However, while rostral brain layers have less influence on sleep and wake, through descending projections, they can subsume the activity of caudal brain layers to promote arousal. The two models presented in this work will suggest computations for the layering and hierarchy. Through dynamic system theory several hypotheses are introduced for the interaction of controllers and systems that correspond to the different populations of neurons at each layer. The models will be drawn-upon to discuss future experiments to elucidate the structure of the hierarchy that exists among the sleep-arousal architecture.

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