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J Clin Neurophysiol. 2006 Feb;23(1):59-67.

Quantification of electromyographic activity during sleep: a phasic electromyographic metric.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Emory University Medical School, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.


Recording of electromyographic (EMG) activity is considered essential for defining rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and for quantifying certain types of movements in sleep, such as periodic leg movements in sleep (PLMS). However, routine analyses of EMG activity beyond such purposes is performed rarely and quantified seldom, and normative data are lacking. In this study, the authors examined systematic application of a visual scoring system for short-duration (approximately 100-millisecond) phasic EMG activity recorded from five different muscle groups (submentalis, left/right anterior tibialis, left/right brachioradialis) recorded from two different age groups of normal subjects and a group of patients with Parkinson's disease. Quantification of this activity was labeled as a phasic electromyographic metric (PEM). PEM data were compiled separately by REM and non-REM sleep. Results indicated that PEM is a normal part of REM sleep in all muscle groups, more specifically constituting about 5% (SD = 3.1%) of 2.5-second intervals of REM sleep in the mentalis in healthy young adults. It occurs at higher rates in patients with Parkinson's disease, and its quantification in the legs may be influenced to some degree by the presence of PLMS. PEM may be a useful metric amenable to quantification with digital techniques. It may have particular relevance for the identification of neurodegenerative conditions in which disinhibition of midbrain dopaminergic pathways results in excessive motor discharge during sleep.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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