• How do we remain vigilant to the environment while asleep?

    In the Luthi lab, we have discovered physiological hallmarks of sleep vigilance that are coordinated in both brain and body (Science Adv doi:10.1126/sciadv.1602026).

    We also found that these hallmarks are generated by fluctuations in free noradrenaline during non-REM sleep – a neuromodulator normally associated with attentive wakefulness (Curr Biol doi : 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.028).

    Anita Luthi and her team use multi-modal measures involving polysomnography, electrophysiology, neural imaging and behavior to understand how noradrenaline acts during sleep to enable vigilance in the sleeping mouse. Additionally, we examine whether noradrenaline signaling risks to disrupt sleep and to what extent this may be relevant for sleep disorders (BioRxiv doi:10.1101/2023.05.20.541586


  • What is the role of sleep’s vigilance system for sleep-dependent memory consolidation?

    We combine behavioral training of mice with subsequent sleep monitoring and optogenetic manipulations to understand how performance changes depend on sleep. We interfere in a time-controlled manner with neuronal activity in the sleeping brain after the mouse has undergone training in a task. For this, closed-loop feedback mechanisms using optogenetic tools are set up in the lab.

  • How are bodily signals perceived by the sleeping vigilant brain?

    The sleeping brain remains vigilant to bodily signals. For example, we sleep differently when our stomach is full or when our heart is beating. We study brain-body interactions through looking at how vagal sensory afferents, the major nervous communication system between brain and body, affect sleep.

  • Does a dysfunctional sleep vigilance system underlie sleep disorders?

    Anita Luthi and her team have identified a novel form of sleep disruptions in chronic pain that is associated to sleep’s vigilance system (Elife doi :10.7554/eLife.65835)


    This study demonstrates that knowing about sleep’s vigilance system means knowing about when to look for sleep disruptions that have so far gone undetected.