Hemodynamic signals in the brain are used as surrogates of neural activity, but how these hemodynamic signals depend on arousal state is poorly understood. Here, we monitored neural activity and hemodynamic signals in un-anesthetized, head-fixed mice to understand how sleep and awake states impact cerebral hemodynamics. In parallel with electrophysiological recordings, we used intrinsic optical signal imaging to measure bilateral changes in cerebral hemoglobin ([HbT]), and two-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM) to measure dilations of individual arterioles. We concurrently monitored body motion, whisker movement, muscle EMG, cortical LFP, and hippocampal LFP to classify the arousal state of the mouse into awake, NREM sleep, or REM sleep. We found that mice invariably fell asleep during imaging, and these sleep states were interspersed with periods of awake. During both NREM and REM sleep, mice showed large increases in [HbT] relative to the awake state, showing increase in hemoglobin and arteriole diameter two to five times larger than those seen in response to sensory stimulation. During NREM sleep, the amplitude of bilateral low-frequency oscillations in [HbT] increased markedly, and coherency between neural activity and hemodynamic signals was higher than the awake resting and REM states. Bilateral correlations in neural activity and [HbT] were highest during NREM sleep, and lowest in the awake state. Our results show that hemodynamic signals in the cortex are strongly modulated by arousal state, with hemodynamic changes during sleep being substantially larger than sensory-evoked responses. These results underscore the critical importance of behavioral monitoring during studies of spontaneous activity, as sleep-related hemodynamics dominate measures of neurovascular coupling and functional connectivity.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience