Sleep and memory are essential elements of our lives and the consolidation of memories during sleep has beenone of the most intensely studied topics in neuroscience. Discoveries in the brains of rodents and birds have advanced the hypothesis that the ordered reactivation (replay) of recent experiences during sleep supports the formation of stable memory traces. However, even after decades of research, the physiological significance of sleep replay is still enigmatic. Coleoid cephalopods (octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid) possess a rich behavioral repertoire and the ability to acquire complex memories. Very recently, members of these species have been shown to exhibit signatures of rapid eye movement like sleep, which is accompanied by overt and fast changing chromatophore activity. Since chromatophores are directly controlled by the central cephalopod brain, this discovery opens the doorto the non-invasive study of central nervous system activity during sleep by monitoring skin patterns. During my stay at the MBL I will investigate whether and how skin patterns during sleep relate to previous experience and memory in cephalopods.
Studying nervous systems that are vastly different from our own, but which support similar behavioral flexibility, will enable the discovery of key principles underlying complex brain functions. The data obtained at the MBL will shapeour understanding of the evolution and relevance of replay phenomena and their relation to memory consolidation.