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The Non-Benzodiazepine Hypnotic Zolpidem Impairs Sleep-Dependent Cortical Plasticity

Seibt, Julie, Aton, Sara J, Jha, Sushil K., Coleman, Tammi and Dumoulin, Michelle C (2008) The Non-Benzodiazepine Hypnotic Zolpidem Impairs Sleep-Dependent Cortical Plasticity Sleep, 31 (10). pp. 1381-1391.

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Study Objectives:

The effects of hypnotics on sleep-dependent brain plasticity are unknown. We have shown that sleep enhances a canonical model of in vivo cortical plasticity, known as ocular dominance plasticity (ODP). We investigated the effects of 3 different classes of hypnotics on ODP.


Polysomnographic recordings were performed during the entire experiment (20 h). After a baseline sleep/wake recording (6 h), cats received 6 h of monocular deprivation (MD) followed by an i.p. injection of triazolam (1-10 mg/kg i.p.), zolpidem (10 mg/kg i.p.), ramelteon (0.1-1 mg/kg i.p.), or vehicle (DMSO i.p.). They were then allowed to sleep ad lib for 8 h, after which they were prepared for optical imaging of intrinsic cortical signals and single-unit electrophysiology. Setting: Basic neurophysiology laboratory

Patients or Participants:

Cats (male and female) in the critical period of visual development (postnatal days 28-41)



Measurements and Results:

Zolpidem reduced cortical plasticity by ~50% as assessed with optical imaging of intrinsic cortical signals. This was not due to abnormal sleep architecture because triazolam, which perturbed sleep architecture and sleep EEGs more profoundly than zolpidem, had no effect on plasticity. Ramelteon minimally altered sleep and had no effect on ODP.


Our findings demonstrate that alterations in sleep architecture do not necessarily lead to impairments in sleep function. Conversely, hypnotics that produce more “physiological” sleep based on polysomnography may impair critical brain processes, depending on their pharmacology.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Biosciences and Medicine
Authors :
Aton, Sara J
Jha, Sushil K.
Coleman, Tammi
Dumoulin, Michelle C
Date : 1 October 2008
DOI : 10.5665/sleep/31.10.1381
Uncontrolled Keywords : Benzodiazepine, non-benzodiazepine, development, sleep-dependent cortical plasticity, α1-GABAA receptor
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 28 Aug 2018 13:17
Last Modified : 28 Aug 2018 13:17

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