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J Neurosci. 2019 Sep 17. pii: 2858-18. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2858-18.2019. [Epub ahead of print]

Posterior hippocampal spindle-ripples co-occur with neocortical theta-bursts and down-upstates, and phase-lock with parietal spindles during NREM sleep in humans.

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Department of Neurosciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Radiology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Department of Neurosciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Human anterior and posterior hippocampus (aHC, pHC) differ in connectivity and behavioral correlates. Here we report physiological differences in humans of both sexes. During NREM sleep, the human hippocampus generates sharpwave-ripples (SWR) similar to those which in rodents mark memory replay. We show that while pHC generates SWR, it also generates about as many spindle-ripples (SSR: ripples phase-locked to local spindles). In contrast, SSR are rare in aHC. Like SWR, SSR often co-occur with neocortical theta bursts (TB), downstates (DS), spindles (SS) and upstates (US), which coordinate cortico-hippocampal interactions and facilitate consolidation in rodents. SWR co-occur with these waves in widespread cortical areas, especially fronto-central. These waves typically occur in the sequence TB-DS-SS-US, with SWR usually occurring prior to SS-US. In contrast, SSR occur ∼350 ms later, with a strong preference for co-occurrence with posterior-parietal SS. pHC-SS were strongly phase-locked with parietal-SS, and pHC-SSR were phase-coupled with pHC-SS and parietal-SS. Human SWR (and associated replay events, if any) are separated by ∼5 s on average, whereas ripples on successive SSR peaks are separated by only ∼80 ms. These distinctive physiological properties of pHC-SSR enable an alternative mechanism for hippocampal engagement with neocortex.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTRodent hippocampal neurons replay waking events during sharpwave-ripples in NREM sleep, facilitating memory transfer to a permanent cortical store. We show that human anterior hippocampus also produces sharpwave-ripples, but spindle-ripples predominate in posterior. Whereas sharpwave-ripples typically occur as cortex emerges from inactivity, spindle-ripples typically occur at peak cortical activity. Furthermore, posterior hippocampal spindle-ripples are tightly coupled to posterior parietal locations activated by conscious recollection. Finally, multiple spindle-ripples can recur within a second, whereas sharpwave-ripples are separated by about 5s. The human posterior hippocampus is considered homologous to rodent dorsal hippocampus, which is thought to be specialized for consolidation of specific memory details. We speculate that these distinct physiological characteristics of posterior hippocampal spindle-ripples may support a related function in humans.

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