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Front Biosci. 2003 May 1;8:s683-93.

Mathematical models of sleep regulation.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


The level of EEG slow-wave activity (SWA) is determined by the duration of prior sleep and waking. SWA is a marker of nonREM sleep intensity and may serve as an indicator of sleep homeostasis. The two-process model of sleep regulation posits the interaction of the homeostatic Process S and the circadian Process C. Also models of neurobehavioral functions (three-process model; interactive models of alertness and cognitive throughput) are based on the concept of an interaction between homeostatic and circadian factors. Whether the interaction is linear or non-linear is still unresolved. Models may serve as a guiding principle for specifying the relationship between processes occurring at the macroscopic and microscopic level of analysis.

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