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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1991 Summer;15(2):259-63.

Absence epilepsy and the level of vigilance in rats of the WAG/Rij strain.

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Department of Psychology, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In man, a relationship exists between sleep-wake states and absence epilepsy. During wakefulness, spike-wave discharges predominantly occur when the level of vigilance is not high, while during sleep they have a preference to occur during slow-wave sleep. During this latter type of sleep, spike-wave discharges prevail in periods where slow-wave sleep is light. In a series of experiments, the WAG/Rij rat model for absence epilepsy was characterized with respect to the relationships between the level of vigilance, sleep-wake states and the occurrence of spike-wave discharges. In the first experiment, continuous recordings were made for a period of 48 h and a clear circadian rhythm was established for the number of spike-wave discharges. A maximum appeared during the middle of the dark period of the rat, whereas a minimum was detected directly after the onset of the light period, the time period during which deep slow-wave sleep predominates. The relationship of spike-wave discharges with states of vigilance was elaborated in a second study. Spike-wave discharges were mainly found during light slow-wave sleep, during passive wakefulness and in transition phases from sleep to wakefulness. During REM sleep no spike-wave discharges were found. In the last three experiments, the level of alertness was enhanced by various procedures as photostimulation, a learning task and deprivation of REM sleep. In all cases, an increase of alertness decreased the amount of epilepsy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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