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Sleep. 2019 Jan 1;42(1). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsy197.

Spatio-temporal structure of sleep slow oscillations on the electrode manifold and its relation to spindles.

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Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA.
Department of Psychology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA.
Teledyne Scientific & Imaging, Durham, NC.


Electrophysiological sleep rhythms have been shown to impact human waking cognition, but their spatio-temporal dynamics are not understood. We investigated how slow oscillations (SOs; 0.5-4 Hz) are organized during a night of polysomnographically-recorded sleep, focusing on the scalp electrode manifold. We detected troughs of SOs at all electrodes independently and analyzed the concurrent SO troughs found in every other electrode within ±400 ms. We used a k-clustering algorithm to categorize the spatial patterns of SO trough co-occurrence into three types (Global, Local or Frontal) depending on their footprint on the electrode manifold during the considered time window. When comparing the clusters across non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep stages, we found a relatively larger fraction of Local SOs in slow wave sleep (SWS) compared to stage 2, and larger fraction of Global SOs in stage 2 compared to SWS. The probability of SO detection in time between two electrodes showed that SO troughs of all types co-occurred at some nearby electrodes, but only Global troughs had traveling wave profiles, moving anteriorly to posteriorly. Global SOs also had larger amplitudes at frontal electrodes and stronger coupling with fast spindles (12.5-16 Hz). Indeed, SO-spindle complexes were more likely to be detected following a Global SO trough compared to SOs in other clusters. Also, the phase-amplitude modulation of SOs over spindles (modulation vector) was higher for Global SOs across the electrode manifold. Given the recent evidence of a link between thalamocortical coupling and cognition, our findings suggest stronger cognitive relevance of Global SOs as compared to other SO types in sleep memory processing.

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