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Brain Res. 1992 Nov 20;596(1-2):285-95.

The time course of sigma activity and slow-wave activity during NREMS in cortical and thalamic EEG of the cat during baseline and after 12 hours of wakefulness.

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  • 1Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, FRG.


The extrapolation from recent neurophysiological findings concerning the dependency of spindle and slow-wave oscillations of thalamocortical neurons on membrane potential to macroscopic EEG events, predicts a reciprocal relation between spindle activity and slow-wave activity (SWA) in thalamic and cortical EEG during non-rapid-eye-movement sleep (NREMS). To test this hypothesis, the EEG recorded in 8 cats, from the nucleus centralis lateralis of the thalamus and from the skull during a 12-h baseline dark period and during a 12-h recovery dark period, following a 12-h sleep deprivation, were analyzed. Per 12-s epoch, sleep-wake behaviour was determined and spectral power density was computed in the slow-wave frequency range (0.5-4.0 Hz) and in the spindle frequency region (sigma activity: 11.0-14.5 Hz). To analyze the development of EEG power densities in the course of NREMS and during the transition from NREMS to REMS, the last epoch of wakefulness and the first 15 epochs of NREMS, as well as the last epochs of NREMS and the first epoch of REMS were selected from the NREM-REM cycles. For each animal the values were averaged over 4-h intervals. In the cortical EEG, SWA was minimal at NREMS onset and increased progressively in the course of NREMS. SWA declined sharply prior to REMS. sigma Activity increased gradually towards a uniform level after NREMS onset. During the transition to REMS, sigma activity initially increased and then decreased rapidly. In the thalamic EEG, the time course of SWA paralleled that of the cortex. However, the development of sigma activity during the first part of NREMS differed: in the thalamic EEG, sigma activity was maximal during the beginning of NREMS and slightly decreased thereafter. After sleep deprivation, SWA within NREMS was markedly enhanced in both the cortical and the thalamic EEG. Sigma activity was attenuated in the thalamic EEG, whereas in the cortical EEG it was temporarily elevated. The present data show that, in the thalamic EEG, an inverse relation exists between spindle and slow-wave activity during baseline NREMS. This relation is preserved after sleep deprivation. In the cortical EEG, a reciprocal relation between spindling and SWA is less evident.

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