Barbara E Jones, PhD, FRSC (Retired)

Barbara E Jones, PhD, FRSC (Retired)
Contact Information
Email address: 
barbara.jones [at]

Professor Emerita (2020), Barbara Jones has sought through her life’s work to understand how the brain generates states of waking and sleep. She has studied the chemical neurotransmitters, anatomical projections and physiology of the specific neurons that stimulate and maintain a waking state, as well as those neurons that reciprocally attenuate waking and promote sleep. In this process, different neural systems interact to generate three distinct states: waking, slow wave sleep (SWS) and paradoxical sleep (PS, or rapid eye movement sleep, REM, when dreaming occurs). To study these neural systems, Jones has used immunohistochemical and neuroanatomical techniques combined with neurophysiological recordings.

She has revealed the way that acetylcholine (ACh) neurons in the brain stem and basal forebrain stimulate cortical activation with theta and fast gamma electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during waking and PS while participating in processes of attention and memory. Due in part to loss of cholinergic neurons, these processes are compromised in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Jones has also identified particular neurons containing GABA that discharge when the EEG is characterized by slow, delta EEG activity and are important for attenuating cortical activation and promoting SWS. Specific GABA and glutamate, along with ACh, neural systems are in turn affected by other neuromodulatory transmitters, including significantly, noradrenaline that appears to excite wake-active neurons and to inhibit sleep-active neurons, thus promoting a waking state. Peptide containing neurons were also found to be important in this process, including notably, orexin neurons in the hypothalamus. Through recording, Jones has revealed the way in which orexin neurons discharge and influence other systems in the brain, such as to stimulate arousal and maintain waking. Indeed, loss of orexin neurons was discovered to be responsible for narcolepsy with cataplexy, when waking cannot be maintained and sleep with loss of muscle tone occurs precipitously as with sudden onset of REM sleep.

Selected publications: 

Toossi H, Del Cid-Pellitero E, Jones BE (2016) GABA Receptors on Orexin and Melanin-Concentrating Hormone Neurons Are Differentially Homeostatically Regulated Following Sleep Deprivation. eNeuro 3:1-11.

Del Cid-Pellitero E, Plavski A, Mainville L, Jones BE (2017) Homeostatic changes in GABA and glutamate receptors on excitatory cortical neurons during sleep deprivation and recovery. Front Syst Neurosci. 11:17.

Jones BE (2017) Principal cell types of sleep-wake regulatory circuits. Curr Opin Neurobiol, 44:101-109.

Cissé Y, Toossi H, Ishibashi M, Mainville L, Leonard C.S, Adamantidis A, Jones BE (2018) Discharge and Role of Acetylcholine Pontomesencephalic Neurons in Cortical Activity and Sleep-Wake States Examined by Optogenetics and Juxtacellular Recording in Mice. eNeuro 1-27.

Cissé Y, Ishibashi M, Jost J, Toossi H, Mainville L, Adamantidis A, Leonard C, Jones BE (2020) Discharge and Role of GABA Pontomesencephalic Neurons in Cortical Activity and Sleep-Wake States Examined by Optogenetics and Juxtacellular Recordings in Mice. J Neurosci., 40:5970-5989.

Jones BE (2020) Arousal and sleep circuits. Neuropsychopharmacology. 45:6-20


Research areas: 
Neural Circuits

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