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Brain. 2002 Feb;125(Pt 2):373-83.

Power and coherence of sleep spindle frequency activity following hemispheric stroke.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Section of Psychopharmacology and Sleep Research, University of Z├╝rich and Department of Neurology, University Hospital-Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland.


Brainstem and thalamic structures are known to play a critical role in modulating sleep-wake cycles, but the extent to which the cerebral hemispheres are involved remains unclear. To study the role of the cerebral hemispheres in generating sleep EEG patterns, all-night polysomnographic recordings were collected in subjects with brain damage (n = 30) caused by hemispheric stroke and in hospitalized controls (n = 12). Recordings were made in the acute (< or =10 days post-stroke), subchronic (11-35 days post-stroke) and chronic (>60 days post-stroke) phases of stroke. Bipolar and referential EEG derivations were recorded. Standard sleep stage scoring was conducted using the referential derivation placed opposite the lesion. Sleep stage 2 power and coherence spectra were calculated based on recordings from bipolar derivations. In the mean spectra, the highest spindle frequency peak was identified and its size was calculated relative to the background spectrum. Analysis of visually scored EEG data indicated that, compared with controls, acute phase brain-damaged subjects had lower sleep efficiency and increased waking after sleep onset. The durations of rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement sleep stages did not differ significantly between brain-damaged subjects and hospitalized controls. Spectral analyses revealed that, compared with hospitalized controls, brain-damaged subjects had significantly reduced spindle peak sizes in the power and coherence spectra from derivations ipsilateral to the lesion. Within-subject comparisons across time demonstrated that the power and coherence of sleep spindle frequency activity increased significantly from the acute to the chronic phases of stroke, suggesting that plastic mechanisms allowed the possibility of recovery. Our findings provide novel evidence that the cerebral hemispheres are important in generating coherent sleep spindles in humans, and they are consonant with prior empirical and theoretical evidence that corticothalamic projections modulate the generation of synchronous spindle oscillations. Because spindle oscillations are thought to be involved in blocking sensory input to the cortex during sleep, the decrease in synchronous spindle frequency activity following hemispheric stroke may contribute to the observed reduction in sleep continuity.

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