Brain-machine interfaces can allow neural control over assistive devices. They also provide an important platform for studying neural plasticity. Recent studies have suggested that optimal engagement of learning is essential for robust neuroprosthetic control. However, little is known about the neural processes that may consolidate a neuroprosthetic skill. On the basis of the growing body of evidence linking slow-wave activity (SWA) during sleep to consolidation, we examined whether there is 'offline' processing after neuroprosthetic learning. Using a rodent model, we found that, after successful learning, task-related units specifically experienced increased locking and coherency to SWA during sleep. Moreover, spike-spike coherence among these units was substantially enhanced. These changes were not present with poor skill acquisition or after control awake periods, demonstrating the specificity of our observations to learning. Notably, the time spent in SWA predicted the performance gains. Thus, SWA appears to be involved in offline processing after neuroprosthetic learning.
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