Prof. Yuval Nir

Physiology Pharmacology
פיזיולוגיה ופרמקולוגיה סגל אקדמי בכיר
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Principal Investigator, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine



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).




Anesthetic Drug Concentration Rather Than Abrupt Behavioral Unresponsiveness Linearly Degrades Responses in the Rat Primary Auditory Cortex. Bergman L*, Krom AJ*, Sela Y, Marmelshtein A, Hayat H, Regev N, Nir Y. Cerebral Cortex. 2022

Disrupted neural correlates of anesthesia and sleep underlie early circuit dysfunctions in Alzheimer models. Zarhin D, Scharf O, Atsmon R, Baeloha H, Shinikamin O, Heim LR, Buchbinder N, Shapira I, Shoob S, Sheinin A, Geva N, Sela Y, Saito T, Saido T, Nir Y, Ziv Y, Slutsky I. Cell Reports 2022

Noradrenaline: Sleep on it. Matosevich N, Nir Y. Current Biology. 2021 Nov 22;31(22):R1477-R1479

Parp1 promotes sleep, which enhances DNA repair in neurons. Zada D, Sela Y, Matosevich N, Monsonego A, Lerer-Goldshtein T, Nir Y, Appelbaum L. Molecular Cell. 2021 Nov 12:S1097-2765(21)00933-3

Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation in humans induces pupil dilation and attenuates alpha oscillations. Sharon O, Fahoum F, Nir Y. Journal of Neuroscience. 2020 Nov 18:doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1361-20.2020.

Anesthesia-induced loss of consciousness disrupts auditory responses beyond primary cortex. Krom AJ*, Marmelshtein A*, Gelbard-Sagiv H, Tankus A, Hayat D, Matot I, Strauss I, Fahoum F, Soehle M, Boström J, Mormann F, Fried I, Nir YProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). 2020 May 26;117(21):11770-11780

Ripples Have Distinct Spectral Properties and Phase-Amplitude Coupling With Slow Waves, but Indistinct Unit Firing, in Human Epileptogenic Hippocampus

Weiss SA, Song I, Leng M, Pastore T, Slezak D, Waldman Z, Orosz I, Gorniak R, Donmez M, Sharan A, Wu C, Fried I, Sperling MR, Bragin A, Engel J Jr, Nir Y, Staba R. Frontiers Neurology. 2020 Mar 24;11:174

Locus coeruleus norepinephrine activity mediates sensory-evoked awakenings from sleep. Hayat H, Regev N, Matosevich N, Sales A, Paredes E, Krom AJ, Bergman L, Lavigne M, Kremer EJ, Yizhar O, Pickering AE, and Nir Y. Science Advances. 2020 Apr 8;6(15)

Local Targeted Memory Reactivation in Human Sleep. Bar E, Marmelshtein A, Arzi A, Perl O, Livneh E, Hizmi E, Paz R, Sobel N, Dudai Y, and Nir Y. Current Biology. 2020 Apr 20;30(8):1435-1446.e5

Sleep differentially affects early and late neuronal responses to sounds in auditory and perirhinal cortices. Sela Y, Krom AJ, Bergman L, Regev N, and Nir Y. Journal of Neuroscience. 2020 Apr 1;40(14):2895-2905

Local Sleep Oscillations: Implications for Memory Consolidation. Geva-Sagiv M, Nir Y. Frontiers Neuroscience. 2019 Aug 20;13:813

Near-total absence of REM sleep co-occurring with normal cognition: an update of the 1984 paper. Magidov E, Hayat H, Sharon O, Andelman F, Katzav S, Lavie P, Tauman R, Nir Y. Sleep Medicine. Sep 19;52:134-137

Noradrenaline Modulates Visual Perception and Late Visually Evoked Activity. Gelbard-Sagiv H, Magidov E, Sharon H, Hendler T, Nir Y. Current Biology. 2018 Jul 23;28(14):2239-2249

Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses. Nir Y, Andrillon T, Suthana N, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Fried I. Nature Medicine. 2017 Dec;23(12):1474-1480

Sleep disrupts high-level speech parsing despite significant basic auditory processing. Makov S, Sharon O, Ding N, Ben-Shachar M, Nir Y*, and Zion-Golumbic E*. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 Aug 9;37(32):7772-7781

Attenuated fast steady-state visual evoked potentials during human sleep. Sharon O, Nir Y. Cerebral Cortex. 2017 Feb 25:1-15

Why does sleep slow wave activity increase after extended wake? Assessing the effects of increased cortical firing during wake and sleep. Rodriguez AV, Funk CM, Vyazovskiy V, Nir Y, Tononi G, Cirelli C. Journal of Neuroscience. 2016 Dec 7;36(49):12436-12447

Responses in rat core auditory cortex are preserved during sleep spindle oscillations. Sela Y, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Nir Y. Sleep. 2016 May 1;39(5):1069-82

Single-neuron activity and eye movements during human REM sleep and awake vision. Andrillon T*, Nir Y*, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Fried I. Nature Communications. 2015 Aug 11; 6:7884

Auditory responses and stimulus-specific adaptation in rat auditory cortex are preserved across NREM and REM sleep. Nir Y, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Banks MI, Tononi G. Cerebral Cortex. 2015 May;25(5):1362-78

Resting state functional connectivity reflects abnormal task-activated patterns in a developmental object agnosic. Gilaie-Dotan S, Hahamy-Dubossarsky A, Nir Y, Berkovich-Ohana A, Bentin S, Malach R. Neuroimage. 2013 Apr 15;70:189-98

Reduction in inter-hemispheric connectivity in disorders of consciousness. 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. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37238

Sleep spindles in humans: insights from intracranial EEG and unit recordings. Andrillon T*, Nir Y*, Staba RJ, Ferrarelli F, Cirelli C, Tononi G, Fried I. Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Dec 7;31(49):17821-34

Local sleep in awake rats. Vyazovskiy VV, Olcese U, Hanlon EC, Nir Y, Cirelli C, Tononi G. Nature. 2011 Apr 28;472(7344):443-7

Identifying the default-mode component in spatial IC analyses of patients with disorders of consciousness. 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. Human Brain Mapping. 2012 Apr;33(4):778-96

Regional slow waves and spindles in human sleep. Nir Y, Staba RJ, Andrillon T, Vyazovskiy VV, Cirelli C, Fried I, Tononi G. Neuron. 2011 Apr 14;70(1):153-69

Invariance of firing rate and field potential dynamics to stimulus modulation rate in human auditory cortex. Mukamel R, Nir Y, Harel M, Arieli A, Malach R, Fried I. Human Brain Mapping. 2011 Aug;32(8):1181-93

Syntactic structure building in the anterior temporal lobe during natural story listening. Brennan J, Nir Y, Hasson U, Malach R, Heeger DJ, Pylkkänen L. Brain and Language. 2012 Feb;120(2):163-73

Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology. Nir Y, Tononi G. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2010 Feb;14(2):88-100

Neural "ignition": enhanced activation linked to perceptual awareness in human ventral stream visual cortex. Fisch L, Privman E, Ramot M, Harel M, Nir Y, Kipervasser S, Andelman F, Neufeld MY, Kramer U, Fried I, Malach R. Neuron. 2009 Nov 25;64(4):562-74

Reaching across the abyss: recent advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging and their potential relevance to disorders of consciousness. Soddu A, Boly M, Nir Y, Noirhomme Q, Vanhaudenhuyse A, Demertzi A, Arzi A, Ovadia S, Stanziano M, Papa M, Laureys S, Malach R. Progress in Brain Research. 2009;177:261-74

Interhemispheric correlations of slow spontaneous neuronal fluctuations revealed in human sensory cortex. Nir Y, Mukamel R, Dinstein I, Privman E, Harel M, Fisch L, Gelbard-Sagiv H, Kipervasser S, Andelman F, Neufeld MY, Kramer U, Arieli A, Fried I, Malach R. Nature Neuroscience. 2008 Sep;11(9):1100-8

BOLD and spiking activity. Nir Y, Dinstein I, Malach R, Heeger DJ. Nature Neuroscience. 2008 May;11(5):523-4; author reply 524

Regionally-specific adaptation dynamics in human object areas. Gilaie-Dotan S, Nir Y, Malach R. Neuroimage. 2008 Feb 15;39(4):1926-37

Coupling between neuronal firing rate, gamma LFP, and BOLD fMRI is related to interneuronal correlations. Nir Y, Fisch L, Mukamel R, Gelbard-Sagiv H, Arieli A, Fried I, Malach R. Current Biology. 2007 Aug 7;17(15):1275-85

Enhanced category tuning revealed by intracranial electroencephalograms in high-order human visual areas. Privman E, Nir Y, Kramer U, Kipervasser S, Andelman F, Neufeld MY, Mukamel R, Yeshurun Y, Fried I, Malach R. Journal of Neuroscience. 2007 Jun 6;27(23):6234-42

Extrinsic and intrinsic systems in the posterior cortex of the human brain revealed during natural sensory stimulation. Golland Y, Bentin S, Gelbard H, Benjamini Y, Heller R, Nir Y, Hasson U, Malach R. Cerebral Cortex. 2007 Apr;17(4):766-77

Widespread functional connectivity and fMRI fluctuations in human visual cortex in the absence of visual stimulation. Nir Y, Hasson U, Levy I, Yeshurun Y, Malach R. Neuroimage. 2006 May 1;30(4):1313-24

Intersubject synchronization of cortical activity during natural vision. Hasson U, Nir Y, Levy I, Fuhrmann G, Malach R. Science. 2004 Mar 12;303(5664):1634-40

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