The Pressure to Sleep

  • Speaker
  • Gero Miesenböck, M.D.Waynflete Professor of Physiology Director, Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, University of Oxford
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010 United States

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Doors open: 5:30 p.m. (No entrance before 5:30 p.m.)

Lecture: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Admittance closes at 6:20 p.m.)

This lecture is part of “The Neuroscience of Sleep,” the 2023 lecture series theme in neuroscience and autism science. All animals need to sleep; it is essential to health and well-being, with many disease states disrupting sleep. Yet, despite its importance, the fundamental biological reasons and mechanisms for sleep remain poorly understood. This set of talks will explore the state of sleep science, including the mechanisms that initiate sleep, what happens in the brain during sleep, what happens when sleep is disordered and why sleep is necessary.

2023 Lecture Series Themes

Biology: Microbiomes

Neuroscience and Autism Science: The Neuroscience of Sleep

Physics: The Third Quantum Revolution

Mathematics and Computer Science: Waves

About Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures

Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures are free public colloquia centered on four main themes: Biology, Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Neuroscience and Autism Science. These curated, high-level scientific talks feature leading scientists and mathematicians and are intended to foster discourse and drive discovery among the broader NYC-area research community. We invite those interested in the topic to join us for this weekly lecture series.

Sleep is vital and universal, but its biological functions remain unknown. In this lecture, Gero Miesenböck will present clues to the mystery of sleep by examining how the brain responds to sleep loss.

He will describe his work in fruit flies that showed that rising sleep pressure activates dedicated sleep-control cells. The activity of those cells fluctuates due to the antagonistic regulation of two potassium conductances: voltage-gated Shaker and the leak channel Sandman. Insight into the sleep need-dependent regulation of these ion channels is beginning to furnish a molecular interpretation of sleep pressure, uncover the cellular processes responsible for its accumulation and discharge, and suggest a physiological role for sleep in protecting neuronal membranes against oxidative damage.

About the Speaker

Miesenböck is the Waynflete Professor of Physiology and founding director of the Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford. He received his M.D. from the University of Innsbruck in his native Austria and was a postdoctoral fellow with James Rothman. Before coming to Oxford in 2007, he held faculty appointments at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Yale University.

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