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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 1478684, 13 pages
Review Article

Eyes Open on Sleep and Wake: In Vivo to In Silico Neural Networks

1Cyclotron Research Centre, University of Liège, 8 Allée du 6 Août, Bâtiment B30, 4000 Liège, Belgium
2Walloon Excellence in Life Sciences and Biotechnology (WELBIO), Belgium
3Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Liège, 10 Allée de la Découverte, Bâtiment B28, 4000 Liège, Belgium

Received 23 July 2015; Accepted 11 October 2015

Academic Editor: Clive R. Bramham

Copyright © 2016 Amaury Vanvinckenroye et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Functional and effective connectivity of cortical areas are essential for normal brain function under different behavioral states. Appropriate cortical activity during sleep and wakefulness is ensured by the balanced activity of excitatory and inhibitory circuits. Ultimately, fast, millisecond cortical rhythmic oscillations shape cortical function in time and space. On a much longer time scale, brain function also depends on prior sleep-wake history and circadian processes. However, much remains to be established on how the brain operates at the neuronal level in humans during sleep and wakefulness. A key limitation of human neuroscience is the difficulty in isolating neuronal excitation/inhibition drive in vivo. Therefore, computational models are noninvasive approaches of choice to indirectly access hidden neuronal states. In this review, we present a physiologically driven in silico approach, Dynamic Causal Modelling (DCM), as a means to comprehend brain function under different experimental paradigms. Importantly, DCM has allowed for the understanding of how brain dynamics underscore brain plasticity, cognition, and different states of consciousness. In a broader perspective, noninvasive computational approaches, such as DCM, may help to puzzle out the spatial and temporal dynamics of human brain function at different behavioural states.