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Exp Brain Res. 2000 Jan;130(1):105-12.

A complementary relationship between wake and REM sleep in the auditory system: a pre-sleep increase of middle-ear muscle activity (MEMA) causes a decrease of MEMA during sleep.

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Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.


Since some evidence has supported a complementary relationship between waking and REM-sleep eye movement (variations in frequency, amplitude, or direction of waking saccades have been found to inversely affect the corresponding parameters of rapid eye movements), the present study assessed whether this relationship can also be shown for other phasic components of REM sleep, such as middle-ear muscle activity (MEMA), as a consequence of an increase of middle-ear reflex frequency during pre-sleep wake. Ten subjects were studied in three consecutive nights (one adaptation, one baseline, one experimental). In the experimental night, subjects underwent a 2-h pure-tone (1000 Hz, 90 dB SPL) auditory stimulation and MEMA was monitored every 15 min; noise exposure during daytime was also controlled. Results show that MEMA frequency during REM sleep significantly decreased during the experimental nights compared with baseline nights, while each sleep variable as well as mean daily auditory input did not present any significant difference between baseline and experimental nights. Results suggest that the complementary relationship between wake and REM sleep is not bounded to oculomotor activity, but it may also be extended at least to middle-ear muscle phasic activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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