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Sleep. 1998 Aug 1;21(5):472-6.

Actigraphic motor asymmetries during sleep.

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Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


Much evidence indicates that during sleep there is a repatterning of motor asymmetries with a relative advantage of the left hand (i.e., the left hand moves more than the right). This could be due to the ability of the right hemisphere in operating at levels of reduced arousal (arousal hypothesis) or to its superior spatial abilities (motor specificity hypothesis), or it could indicate a greater need for sleep in the left hemisphere (homeostatic hypothesis). Since only the latter hypothesis predicts that the repatterning should be present in the first part of sleep (i.e., when the homeostatic processes are more pronounced), the present study evaluated whether actigraphic data are consistent with this prediction. Sixteen right-handed college students wore actigraphs (AMI 16K) on both upper and lower limbs for about 56 hours. Factorial ANOVAS were carried out on side (left vs right) and part (first vs second) of the recording period during sleep and waking. During waking, the right hand showed more intense motor activity as compared to the left. During sleep, in the first part of the night, the right hand lost this advantage, while in the second part of the night it regained its superiority. Since this repatterning was specific for hand movements and no difference was found in overall motor activity and in arousal between the two parts of the sleep period, the results are interpreted as consistent with the homeostatic hypothesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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