Barbara E. Jones, PhD

Contact Information

Email: barbara.jones [at] mcgill.ca (Barbara E. Jones)
Tel.: 514-398-1913
Recent Publications: PubMed, Google Scholar
Academic Affiliations: Neurology and Neurosurgery
Research Groups: Neural CircuitsNeurodegenerative Diseases


Barbara Jones seeks to understand how the brain generates states of waking and sleep. She studies 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 arrest 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 uses immunohistochemical and neuroanatomical techniques combined with neurophysiological recording. She is examining the way that cholinergic neurons in the brain stem and basal forebrain stimulate cortical activation with theta and gamma electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during waking and PS and participate 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 Disease.

Jones has also identified particular neurons containing GABA that are active when the EEG is characterized by slow, delta EEG activity and might be important for attenuating cortical activation and stimulating SWS. These different neuronal systems are in turn affected by other neurotransmitters, including significantly noradrenaline that appears to excite wake-active neurons and to inhibit sleep-active neurons, thus maintaining a waking state. Disruption of these systems’ neurotransmitters or receptors can result in sleep disorders such as insomnia and narcolepsy. Indeed, the peptide orexin, which is contained in neurons in the hypothalamus, has been found to be essential for the maintenance of waking, since in its absence, narcolepsy with cataplexy occurs in humans and animals. Understanding the way in which orexin neurons discharge and influence other systems in the brain to maintain waking is another major aim of Jones' research program.

Selected Publications

Hassani, O.K., Krause, M.R., Mainville, L., Cordova, C.A., and Jones, B.E. (2016). Orexin Neurons Respond Differentially to Auditory Cues Associated with Appetitive versus Aversive Outcomes. J Neurosci 36, 1747-1757. Supplemental information

Hassani OK, Lee MG, Henny P, Jones BE (2009) Discharge profiles of identified GABAergic in comparison to cholinergic and putative glutamatergic basal forebrain neurons across the sleep-wake cycle. J Neurosci 29:11828-11840. Link To Article

Hassani OK, Lee MG, Jones BE (2009) Melanin-concentrating hormone neurons discharge in a reciprocal manner to orexin neurons across the sleep-wake cycle. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Link To Article

Brischoux F, Mainville L, Jones BE (2008) Muscarinic-2 and orexin-2 receptors on GABAergic and other neurons in the rat mesopontine tegmentum and their potential role in sleep-wake state control. J Comp Neurol 510:607-630. Link To Article

Henny P, Jones BE (2008) Projections from basal forebrain to prefrontal cortex comprise cholinergic, GABAergic and glutamatergic inputs to pyramidal cells or interneurons. Eur J Neurosci 27:654-670. Link To Article

Modirrousta, M., Mainville, L., Jones, B.E. (2007) Dynamic changes in GABAA receptors on basal forebrain cholinergic neurons following sleep deprivation and recovery, BMC Neurosci, 8:15 Link To Article

Jones, B.E. (2005) From waking to sleeping: neuronal and chemical substrates. Trends Pharmacol Sci 26:578-586. Erratum in: Trends Pharmacol Sci (2006) 27:189. Link To Article

Lee, M.G., Hassani, O.K., Alonso, A., Jones, B.E. (2005) Cholinergic basal forebrain neurons burst with theta during waking and paradoxical sleep. J. Neurosci.25:4365-4369. Link To Article

The Montreal Neurological Institute & Hospital is a McGill University research and teaching institute; delivering the highest quality of care to patients, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. The Neuro is proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.