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Neurology. 1997 Oct;49(4):952-9.

The K-complex: its slow (<1-Hz) rhythmicity and relation to delta waves.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Quebec, PQ, Canada.


The K-complex is a major graphoelement of sleep EEG. This report demonstrates that K-complexes emerge from a cortically generated slow (<1-Hz) oscillation. Human EEG as well as cat cellular and field potential recordings converge into demonstrating that the K-complex results from a synchronized cortical network that imposes periodic excitatory and inhibitory actions on cortical neurons. We additionally show the correspondence between neuronal activities and the shape of the K-complex. Spectral analysis confirms the periodic recurrence of human K-complexes, with main peaks at 0.5 to 0.7 Hz. It is also shown that the spectral content in the delta band (1 to 4 Hz) is partially due to the shape and duration of the K-complex.

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