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J Sleep Res. 2008 Jun;17(2):154-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00639.x.

Electroencephalogram asymmetry and spectral power during sleep in the northern fur seal.

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UCLA & VA GLAHS, Sepulveda, CA 91343, USA.


The fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), a member of the Pinniped family, displays a highly expressed electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry during slow wave sleep (SWS), which is comparable with the unihemispheric sleep in cetaceans. In this study, we investigated the EEG asymmetry in the fur seal using spectral analysis. Four young (2-3 years old) seals were implanted with EEG electrodes for polygraphic sleep recording. In each animal, EEG spectral power in the frequency range of 1.2-16 Hz was computed in symmetrical cortical recordings over two consecutive nights. The degree of EEG asymmetry was measured by using the asymmetry index [AI = (L - R)/(L + R), where L and R are the spectral powers in the left and right hemispheres, respectively]. In fur seals, EEG asymmetry, as measured by the percent of 20-s epochs with absolute AI > 0.3 and >0.6, was expressed in the entire frequency range (1.2-16 Hz). The asymmetry was significantly greater during SWS (25.6-44.2% of all SWS epochs had an absolute AI > 0.3 and 2.1-12.2% of all epochs had AI > 0.6) than during quiet waking (11.0-20.3% and 0-1.9% of all waking epochs, respectively) and REM sleep (4.2-8.9% of all REM sleep epochs and no epochs, respectively). EEG asymmetry was recorded during both low- and high-voltage SWS, and was maximal in the range of 1.2-4 and 12-16 Hz. As shown in this study, the degree of EEG asymmetry and the frequency range in which it is expressed during SWS in fur seals are profoundly different from those of terrestrial mammals and birds.

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