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Neuroscience. 1999;94(4):1005-18.

Correlation of high-frequency oscillations with the sleep-wake cycle and cognitive activity in humans.

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Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, McGill University, Quebec, Canada.


While several authors have suggested that high-frequency electroencephalogram activity (gamma, >30 Hz) correlates with conscious thought, others have suggested that electroencephalogram activity >30 Hz shows the same relationships to cognitive activity and sleep as activity in the conventional beta frequency band. The existence of coherence of gamma over large distances also remains controversial. We studied quantitatively the relationship of gamma activity to the sleep-wake cycle and cognitive tasks during wakefulness in humans using intracranial electroencephalogram. Gamma activity made up less than 1% of the total power spectrum. A significant relationship was observed between gamma activity and the sleep-wake cycle such that gamma was highest during wakefulness, intermediate during light and rapid eye movement sleep, and lowest during slow-wave sleep. As well, gamma was higher during rapid eye movement sleep with eye movements than during rapid eye movement sleep without eye movements. During a cognitive task experiment, while lower frequencies, including beta, showed a stepwise reduction with increasing task difficulty, gamma was observed to increase during cognitive tasks as compared to the resting state. The relationship between gamma and the sleep-wake cycle and cognitive tasks was independent of brain region and hemisphere. Coherence of gamma activity at distances of 5 mm and greater was not observed. Our data support previously reported findings that gamma activity has a significant relationship to the sleep-wake cycle. The findings of differences in gamma during REM sleep with and without eye movements suggest that the presence or absence of eye movements may reflect two different states of brain activity. Our findings of differences in the relationships of the beta and gamma bands to both the sleep-wake cycle and cognitive tasks demonstrate that various components of the high-frequency spectrum behave differently in some situations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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