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Am J Physiol. 1999 Dec;277(6):R1771-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1999.277.6.R1771.

Two circadian rhythms in the human electroencephalogram during wakefulness.

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Section on Biological Rhythms, Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The influence of the circadian pacemaker and of the duration of time awake on the electroencephalogram (EEG) was investigated in 19 humans during approximately 40 h of sustained wakefulness. Two circadian rhythms in spectral power density were educed. The first rhythm was centered in the theta band (4.25-8.0 Hz) and exhibited a minimum approximately 1 h after the onset of melatonin secretion. The second rhythm was centered in the high-frequency alpha band (10.25-13.0 Hz) and exhibited a minimum close to the body temperature minimum. The latter rhythm showed a close temporal association with the rhythms in subjective alertness, plasma melatonin, and body temperature. In addition, increasing time awake was associated with an increase of power density in the 0.25- to 9.0-Hz and 13.25- to 20. 0-Hz ranges. It is concluded that the waking EEG undergoes changes that can be attributed to circadian and homeostatic (i.e., sleep-wake dependent) processes. The distinct circadian variations of EEG activity in the theta band and in the high-frequency alpha band may represent electrophysiological correlates of different aspects of the circadian rhythm in arousal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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