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Neuroimage. 2002 Nov;17(3):1325-35.

Cortical deactivation induced by visual stimulation in human slow-wave sleep.

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Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Hvidovre Hospital, Glostrup, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


It has previously been demonstrated that sleeping and sedated young children respond with a paradoxical decrease in the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal in the rostro-medial occipital visual cortex during visual stimulation. It is unresolved whether this negative BOLD response pattern is of developmental neurobiological origin particular to a given age or to a general effect of sleep or sedative drugs. To further elucidate this issue, we used fMRI and positron emission tomography (PET) to study the brain activation pattern during visual stimulation in spontaneously sleeping adult volunteers. In five sleeping volunteers fMRI studies confirmed a robust signal decrease during stimulation in the rostro-medial occipital cortex. A similar relative decrease at the same location was found during visual stimulation and polysomnographically verified slow-wave sleep in a separate group of six subjects using H(2)(15)O PET measures of the regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). This decrease was more rostro-dorsal compared to the relative rCBF increase along the calcarine sulcus found during visual stimulation in the awake state. This study reconfirms the previously described paradoxical stimulation-correlated negative BOLD signal change in the rostro-medial occipital cortex, expanding this response mode to an age spectrum ranging from the newborn to the adult. Further, the use of complementary brain mapping techniques suggests that this decrease was secondary to a relative rCBF decrease. Possible mechanisms for the paradoxical response pattern during sleep include an active inhibition of the visual cortex or a disruption of an energy-consuming process.

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