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Sb Lek. 2003;104(4):375-85.

[Microsleep from the electro- and psychophysiological point of view].

[Article in Czech]

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Laborator spolehlivosti systémů, Dopravní fakulta, Ceské vysoké ucení technické Konviktská 20, 110 00 Praha 1.


Impaired wakefulness in machine operators poses a danger not only to themselves but often also to the public at large. While on duty, such persons are expected to be continuously, i.e., without interruption, on the alert. For that purpose, we designed and carried out an experimental model of continuous vigilance monitoring using electroencephalography (EEG) and reaction time measured as the latency of the proband's reaction to sound. If constructed, the set together with other logical elements and an alarm can make for an automatic detection of vigilance and, possibly, also of arousal stimuli in cases of microsleep. We found the following new facts and confirmed the validity of some of the earlier ones: Vigilance is marked by alpha activity in the EEG record (oscillation of 8-13 Hz) and reaction time (RT) of 200-400 ms (milliseconds). Sleep is characterized by theta and delta activities (4-7 and 0.5-3.5 Hz respectively) with no reaction. Between wakefulness and sleep there are at least two stages: relaxation with prolonged RT of 400 to 800 ms and increased EEG alpha, sometimes also beta activities. Then there is the hypnagogic phase with disintegrating alpha and growing theta or even delta activities and an RT of 800 up to 1200 ms. Changes in the EEG and its spectrum and their actual localization on the cranial surface exhibit individual differences; hence, no straightforward categories for the above stages can be established. As for changes in vigilance in the relaxation and hypnagogic phases as well as in the processes of mentation, the most significant are the alpha and delta, less so the theta and beta bands. The most suitable sites for the detection of those changes on the skull surface are temporo-parieto-occipital (TPO) regions, i.e., those over the posterior parts of the skull with the least muscle and oculomotor artifacts and with the most energy for alpha and delta activities. In somnolence, the cortex does not behave as a whole, which means that different areas show different spectra while getting off to sleep, a fact easy to express by means of the alpha/delta ratio, separately for each of the cranial areas. At sleep onset, the alpha/delta ratio undergoes changes; it is greater than one in wakefulness, less than one in sleep, and in the region of one as the person goes to sleep. In the course of sleep with zero reactivity, the cortex already behaves as a whole, i.e., all cranial areas have similar or the same spectrograms, with the alpha/delta coefficient being less than one all over the skull. At times, the spectrogram taken during mentation (e.g., while undergoing psychological tests) resembles that of somnolence, with the alpha/delta coefficient being greater than one. However, there are differences: in somnolence, the delta activity is increased all over its band, i.e., from 0.5 to 3.5 Hz, while during mentation it is increased solely in the slow delta activity band (0.5 to 3.5 Hz). In somnolence, theta is on the increase, but not so in mentation. In the hypnagogic phase, alpha becomes completely extinct--unlike in mentation. As follows from the above listed facts, not everyone applying for an automatic alarm detector of vigilance can be provided with one at random and expect it to go off at the first sign of slumber. Conversely, every applicant ought to be treated as a proband, i.e., tested with simultaneous EEG registration, EEG analysis, determination of the best suitable area on the cranial surface and EEG frequency, separately for vigilance, relaxation, hypnagogic phase and mentation, and--in keeping with the above rules--have individual parameters of the alarm device adjusted accordingly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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