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PLoS One. 2009 Oct 26;4(10):e7601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007601.

Functional structure of spontaneous sleep slow oscillation activity in humans.

Author information

1
Institute of Clinical Physiology, CNR, Pisa, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

During non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep synchronous neural oscillations between neural silence (down state) and neural activity (up state) occur. Sleep Slow Oscillations (SSOs) events are their EEG correlates. Each event has an origin site and propagates sweeping the scalp. While recent findings suggest a SSO key role in memory consolidation processes, the structure and the propagation of individual SSO events, as well as their modulation by sleep stages and cortical areas have not been well characterized so far.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We detected SSO events in EEG recordings and we defined and measured a set of features corresponding to both wave shapes and event propagations. We found that a typical SSO shape has a transition to down state, which is steeper than the following transition from down to up state. We show that during SWS SSOs are larger and more locally synchronized, but less likely to propagate across the cortex, compared to NREM stage 2. Also, the detection number of SSOs as well as their amplitudes and slopes, are greatest in the frontal regions. Although derived from a small sample, this characterization provides a preliminary reference about SSO activity in healthy subjects for 32-channel sleep recordings.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

This work gives a quantitative picture of spontaneous SSO activity during NREM sleep: we unveil how SSO features are modulated by sleep stage, site of origin and detection location of the waves. Our measures on SSOs shape indicate that, as in animal models, onsets of silent states are more synchronized than those of neural firing. The differences between sleep stages could be related to the reduction of arousal system activity and to the breakdown of functional connectivity. The frontal SSO prevalence could be related to a greater homeostatic need of the heteromodal association cortices.

PMID:
19855839
PMCID:
PMC2762602
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0007601
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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