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Neurosci Lett. 2000 Sep 8;291(1):41-3.

The spontaneous K-complex during stage 2 sleep: is it the 'forerunner' of delta waves?

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Dipartimento di Psicologia-Sezione di Neuroscienze, Università degli Studi 'La Sapienza', Via dei Marsi, 78; 00185, Roma, Italy.


The hypothesis that K-complexes (KCs) contribute to the process of synchronization leading to Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS) was evaluated by measuring their dynamic evolution across sleep cycles and before transitions to rapid eye movement (REM) or to SWS. KC density and inter-KC intervals respectively decreased and increased across the sleep cycles, revealing linear trends. Comparisons among transitions from stage 2 to SWS or to REM sleep showed a prevalence of KCs before the shift to SWS as compared to REM. Changes in KC density before the shift to SWS were fitted by a linear regression, at variance with the transition to REM sleep. Intra-night variations of KCs, paralleling the well-known decrease of slow waves across sleep cycles, and intracycle variations before shifting to SWS, both converge to indicate that KCs can be considered as the forerunner of delta waves.

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