DeLTA Center Roundtable - Greta Sokoloff, Ph.D. (University of Iowa)

DeLTA Center Roundtable - Greta Sokoloff, Ph.D. (University of Iowa)
Friday, February 24, 2017 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Lindquist Center

Greta Sokoloff, a Research Scientist in Mark Blumberg’s lab in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, will be giving a talk for the DeLTA Center.

Dr. Sokoloff received her Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Iowa in 2001. She completed her postdoctoral training in the neurobiology of learning and memory at Indiana University and held a Research Associate (Assistant Professor) position in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Sokoloff is broadly interested in the ability of developing organisms to adapt to and successfully inhabit different ontogenetic contexts over periods of substantial change. She is currently focusing on the cerebellum and how it is integrated into the sensorimotor system during postnatal development and how sleep – more specifically the movements that occur during sleep – facilitates this integration. Recently she has been conducting a longitudinal behavioral study looking at REM sleep twitches in human infants over the first postnatal year and is trying to relate changes in patterns of twitching to changes in wake-related motor development.

Title: How to sleep like a baby: REM-sleep twitches from birth to 12 months of age.

Abstract: Human infants, in the first postnatal month, spend two-thirds of each day asleep, with half of that sleep time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Because the proportion of time spent in REM sleep decreases over development, it has been hypothesized that it plays an important role in brain development. In support of this hypothesis, we have shown in infant rats that sensory feedback from twitching limbs is a primary activator of sensorimotor areas throughout the brain. Importantly, neural activity is suppressed, or reduced, in these same areas when the infant rat is awake and moving. These findings suggest that twitching provides a mechanism by which the developing infant spontaneously explores the biomechanics of its ever-changing body and establishes functional connections between the limbs and sensorimotor system, thereby contributing to the expression of goal-directed wake movements. As a first step toward studying twitching in human infants, we video-recorded daytime sleep in full-term infants from 2 weeks to 12 months of age.  Similar to infant rats, human infants spend a significant amount of time in REM sleep and twitch at steady rates across the first postnatal year. Furthermore, infants exhibit individual differences in twitching that, if robust and reliable, will provide a foundation for exploring individual developmental trajectories in twitching and how they relate to the development of skilled movements. One ultimate goal of our work is to use twitching to detect neurodevelopmental disorders at younger ages than is currently possible using standard diagnostic criteria.

+ Coffee, water, and pastries will be provided