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1.  Homeostatic regulation of sleep in the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) 
BMC Neuroscience  2008;9:47.
Sleep is regulated by both a circadian and a homeostatic process. The homeostatic process reflects the duration of prior wakefulness: the longer one stays awake, the longer and/or more intense is subsequent sleep. In mammals, the best marker of the homeostatic sleep drive is slow wave activity (SWA), the electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum in the 0.5–4 Hz frequency range during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In mammals, NREM sleep SWA is high at sleep onset, when sleep pressure is high, and decreases progressively to reach low levels in late sleep. Moreover, SWA increases further with sleep deprivation, when sleep also becomes less fragmented (the duration of sleep episodes increases, and the number of brief awakenings decreases). Although avian and mammalian sleep share several features, the evidence of a clear homeostatic response to sleep loss has been conflicting in the few avian species studied so far. The aim of the current study was therefore to ascertain whether established markers of sleep homeostasis in mammals are also present in the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii), a migratory songbird of the order Passeriformes. To accomplish this goal, we investigated amount of sleep, sleep time course, and measures of sleep intensity in 6 birds during baseline sleep and during recovery sleep following 6 hours of sleep deprivation.
Continuous (24 hours) EEG and video recordings were used to measure baseline sleep and recovery sleep following short-term sleep deprivation. Sleep stages were scored visually based on 4-sec epochs. EEG power spectra (0.5–25 Hz) were calculated on consecutive 4-sec epochs. Four vigilance states were reliably distinguished based on behavior, visual inspection of the EEG, and spectral EEG analysis: Wakefulness (W), Drowsiness (D), slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. During baseline, SWA during D, SWS, and NREM sleep (defined as D and SWS combined) was highest at the beginning of the major sleep period and declined thereafter. Moreover, peak SWA in both SWS and NREM sleep increased significantly immediately following sleep deprivation relative to baseline.
As in mammals, sleep deprivation in the white-crowned sparrow increases the intensity of sleep as measured by SWA.
PMCID: PMC2424059  PMID: 18505569
2.  Local sleep homeostasis in the avian brain: convergence of sleep function in mammals and birds? 
The function of the brain activity that defines slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in mammals is unknown. During SWS, the level of electroencephalogram slow wave activity (SWA or 0.5–4.5 Hz power density) increases and decreases as a function of prior time spent awake and asleep, respectively. Such dynamics occur in response to waking brain use, as SWA increases locally in brain regions used more extensively during prior wakefulness. Thus, SWA is thought to reflect homeostatically regulated processes potentially tied to maintaining optimal brain functioning. Interestingly, birds also engage in SWS and REM sleep, a similarity that arose via convergent evolution, as sleeping reptiles and amphibians do not show similar brain activity. Although birds deprived of sleep show global increases in SWA during subsequent sleep, it is unclear whether avian sleep is likewise regulated locally. Here, we provide, to our knowledge, the first electrophysiological evidence for local sleep homeostasis in the avian brain. After staying awake watching David Attenborough's The Life of Birds with only one eye, SWA and the slope of slow waves (a purported marker of synaptic strength) increased only in the hyperpallium—a primary visual processing region—neurologically connected to the stimulated eye. Asymmetries were specific to the hyperpallium, as the non-visual mesopallium showed a symmetric increase in SWA and wave slope. Thus, hypotheses for the function of mammalian SWS that rely on local sleep homeostasis may apply also to birds.
PMCID: PMC3125620  PMID: 21208955
potentiation; slow wave activity; synaptic downscaling; synaptic strength
3.  Topographical aspects in the dynamics of sleep homeostasis in young men: individual patterns 
BMC Neuroscience  2011;12:84.
Sleep homeostasis refers to the increase of sleep pressure during waking and the decrease of sleep intensity during sleep. Electroencephalography (EEG) slow-wave activity (SWA; EEG power in the 0.75-4.5 Hz range) is a marker of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep intensity and can be used to model sleep homeostasis (Process S). SWA shows a frontal predominance, and its increase after sleep deprivation is most pronounced in frontal areas. The question arises whether the dynamics of the homeostatic Process S also show regional specificity. Furthermore, the spatial distribution of SWA is characteristic for an individual and may reflect traits of functional anatomy. The aim of the current study was to quantify inter-individual variation in the parameters of Process S and investigate their spatial distribution. Polysomnographic recordings obtained with 27 EEG derivations of a baseline night of sleep and a recovery night of sleep after 40 h of sustained wakefulness were analyzed. Eight healthy young subjects participated in this study. Process S was modeled by a saturating exponential function during wakefulness and an exponential decline during sleep. Empirical mean SWA per NREM sleep episode at episode midpoint served for parameter estimation at each derivation. Time constants were restricted to a physiologically meaningful range.
For both, the buildup and decline of Process S, significant topographic differences were observed: The decline and buildup of Process S were slowest in fronto-central areas while the fastest dynamics were observed in parieto-occipital (decrease) and frontal (buildup) areas. Each individual showed distinct spatial patterns in the parameters of Process S and the parameters differed significantly between individuals.
For the first time, topographical aspects of the buildup of Process S were quantified. Our data provide an additional indication of regional differences in sleep homeostasis and support the notion of local aspects of sleep regulation.
PMCID: PMC3173373  PMID: 21846365
4.  Sleep Patterns and Homeostatic Mechanisms in Adolescent Mice 
Brain sciences  2013;3(1):318-343.
Sleep changes were studied in mice (n = 59) from early adolescence to adulthood (postnatal days P19–111). REM sleep declined steeply in early adolescence, while total sleep remained constant and NREM sleep increased slightly. Four hours of sleep deprivation starting at light onset were performed from ages P26 through adulthood (>P60). Following this acute sleep deprivation all mice slept longer and with more consolidated sleep bouts, while NREM slow wave activity (SWA) showed high interindividual variability in the younger groups, and increased consistently only after P42. Three parameters together explained up to 67% of the variance in SWA rebound in frontal cortex, including weight-adjusted age and increase in alpha power during sleep deprivation, both of which positively correlated with the SWA response. The third, and strongest predictor was the SWA decline during the light phase in baseline: mice with high peak SWA at light onset, resulting in a large SWA decline, were more likely to show no SWA rebound after sleep deprivation, a result that was also confirmed in parietal cortex. During baseline, however, SWA showed the same homeostatic changes in adolescents and adults, declining in the course of sleep and increasing across periods of spontaneous wake. Thus, we hypothesize that, in young adolescent mice, a ceiling effect and not the immaturity of the cellular mechanisms underlying sleep homeostasis may prevent the SWA rebound when wake is extended beyond its physiological duration.
PMCID: PMC3682503  PMID: 23772316
adolescence; cerebral cortex; sleep deprivation; slow wave activity
5.  Sleep Patterns and Homeostatic Mechanisms in Adolescent Mice 
Brain Sciences  2013;3(1):318-343.
Sleep changes were studied in mice (n = 59) from early adolescence to adulthood (postnatal days P19–111). REM sleep declined steeply in early adolescence, while total sleep remained constant and NREM sleep increased slightly. Four hours of sleep deprivation starting at light onset were performed from ages P26 through adulthood (>P60). Following this acute sleep deprivation all mice slept longer and with more consolidated sleep bouts, while NREM slow wave activity (SWA) showed high interindividual variability in the younger groups, and increased consistently only after P42. Three parameters together explained up to 67% of the variance in SWA rebound in frontal cortex, including weight-adjusted age and increase in alpha power during sleep deprivation, both of which positively correlated with the SWA response. The third, and strongest predictor was the SWA decline during the light phase in baseline: mice with high peak SWA at light onset, resulting in a large SWA decline, were more likely to show no SWA rebound after sleep deprivation, a result that was also confirmed in parietal cortex. During baseline, however, SWA showed the same homeostatic changes in adolescents and adults, declining in the course of sleep and increasing across periods of spontaneous wake. Thus, we hypothesize that, in young adolescent mice, a ceiling effect and not the immaturity of the cellular mechanisms underlying sleep homeostasis may prevent the SWA rebound when wake is extended beyond its physiological duration.
PMCID: PMC3682503  PMID: 23772316
adolescence; cerebral cortex; sleep deprivation; slow wave activity
6.  Morning and Evening-Type Differences in Slow Waves during NREM Sleep Reveal Both Trait and State-Dependent Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22679.
Brain recovery after prolonged wakefulness is characterized by increased density, amplitude and slope of slow waves (SW, <4 Hz) during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. These SW comprise a negative phase, during which cortical neurons are mostly silent, and a positive phase, in which most neurons fire intensively. Previous work showed, using EEG spectral analysis as an index of cortical synchrony, that Morning-types (M-types) present faster dynamics of sleep pressure than Evening-types (E-types). We thus hypothesized that single SW properties will also show larger changes in M-types than in E-types in response to increased sleep pressure. SW density (number per minute) and characteristics (amplitude, slope between negative and positive peaks, frequency and duration of negative and positive phases) were compared between chronotypes for a baseline sleep episode (BL) and for recovery sleep (REC) after two nights of sleep fragmentation. While SW density did not differ between chronotypes, M-types showed higher SW amplitude and steeper slope than E-types, especially during REC. SW properties were also averaged for 3 NREM sleep periods selected for their decreasing level of sleep pressure (first cycle of REC [REC1], first cycle of BL [BL1] and fourth cycle of BL [BL4]). Slope was significantly steeper in M-types than in E-types in REC1 and BL1. SW frequency was consistently higher and duration of positive and negative phases constantly shorter in M-types than in E-types. Our data reveal that specific properties of cortical synchrony during sleep differ between M-types and E-types, although chronotypes show a similar capacity to generate SW. These differences may involve 1) stable trait characteristics independent of sleep pressure (i.e., frequency and durations) likely linked to the length of silent and burst-firing phases of individual neurons, and 2) specific responses to increased sleep pressure (i.e., slope and amplitude) expected to depend on the synchrony between neurons.
PMCID: PMC3150370  PMID: 21829643
7.  A postsleep decline in auditory evoked potential amplitude reflects sleep homoeostasis 
It has been hypothesized that slow wave activity, a well established measure of sleep homeostasis that increases after waking and decreases after sleep, may reflect changes in cortical synaptic strength. If so, the amplitude of sensory evoked responses should also vary as a function of time awake and asleep in a way that reflects sleep homeostasis.
Using 256-channel, high-density electroencephalography (EEG) in 12 subjects, auditory evoked potentials (AEP) and spontaneous waking data were collected during wakefulness before and after sleep.
The amplitudes of the N1 and P2 waves of the AEP were reduced after a night of sleep. In addition, the decline in N1 amplitude correlated with low-frequency EEG power during non-rapid eye movement sleep and spontaneous wakefulness, both homeostatically regulated measures of sleep need.
The decline in AEP amplitude after a night of sleep may reflect a homeostatic reduction in synaptic strength.
These findings provide further evidence for a connection between synaptic plasticity and sleep homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3134628  PMID: 21420904
Auditory evoked potentials; sleep homeostasis; synaptic plasticity; slow wave sleep; N1 and P2; electroencephalogram
8.  Overnight changes in waking auditory evoked potential amplitude reflect altered sleep homeostasis in major depression 
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica  2011;125(6):468-477.
Sleep homeostasis is altered in major depressive disorder (MDD). Pre-to post-sleep decline in waking auditory evoked potential (AEP) amplitude has been correlated with sleep slow wave activity (SWA), suggesting that overnight changes in waking AEP amplitude are homeostatically regulated in healthy individuals. This study investigated whether the overnight change in waking AEP amplitude and its relation to SWA is altered in MDD.
Using 256-channel high-density electroencephalography, all-night sleep polysomnography and single-tone waking AEPs pre-and post-sleep were collected in 15 healthy controls (HC) and 15 non-medicated individuals with MDD.
N1 and P2 amplitudes of the waking AEP declined after sleep in the HC group, but not in MDD. The reduction in N1 amplitude also correlated with fronto-central SWA in the HC group, but a comparable relationship was not found in MDD, despite equivalent SWA between groups. No pre-to post-sleep differences were found for N1 or P2 latencies in either group. These findings were not confounded by varying levels of alertness or differences in sleep variables between groups.
MDD involves altered sleep homeostasis as measured by the overnight change in waking AEP amplitude. Future research is required to determine the clinical implications of these findings.
PMCID: PMC3303968  PMID: 22097901
major depressive disorder; auditory evoked potentials; sleep; homeostasis; slow-wave sleep
9.  Altered overnight modulation of spontaneous waking EEG reflects altered sleep homeostasis in major depressive disorder: a high-density EEG investigation 
Journal of affective disorders  2013;150(3):1167-1173.
Prior investigations have suggested sleep homeostasis is altered in major depressive disorder (MDD). Low frequency activity (LFA) in the electroencephalogram during waking has been correlated with sleep slow wave activity (SWA), suggesting that waking LFA reflects sleep homeostasis in healthy individuals. This study investigated whether the overnight change in waking LFA and its relationship with sleep SWA are altered in MDD.
256-channel high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) recordings during waking (pre- and post-sleep) and during sleep were collected in 14 unmedicated, unipolar MDD subjects (9 women) and age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC).
Waking LFA (3.25–.25 Hz) declined significantly overnight in the HC group, but not in the group of MDD subjects. Overnight decline of waking LFA correlated with sleep SWA in frontal brain regions in HC, but a comparable relationship was not found in MDD.
This study is not able to definitely segregate overnight changes in the waking EEG that may occur due to homeostatic and/or circadian factors.
MDD involves altered overnight modulation of waking low frequency EEG activity that may reflect altered sleep homeostasis in the disorder. Future research is required to determine the functional significance and clinical implications of these findings.
PMCID: PMC3760229  PMID: 23810359
major depressive disorder; high-density EEG; waking EEG
Slow wave activity (SWA), the EEG power between 0.5 - 4 Hz during NREM sleep, is one of the best characterized markers of sleep need, as it increases as a function of preceding waking duration and decreases during sleep, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We hypothesized that SWA is high at sleep onset because it reflects the occurrence, during the previous waking period, of widespread synaptic potentiation in cortical and subcortical areas. Consistent with this hypothesis, we recently showed that the more rats explore, the stronger is the cortical expression of BDNF during wakefulness, and the larger is the increase in SWA during the subsequent sleep period. There is compelling evidence that BDNF plays a causal role in synaptic potentiation, and exogenous application of BDNF in vivo is sufficient to induce long-term increases in synaptic strength. We therefore performed cortical unilateral microinjections of BDNF in awake rats and measured SWA during the subsequent sleep period. SWA during NREM sleep was higher in the injected hemisphere relative to the contralateral one. The effect was reversible within 2 hours, and did not occur during wakefulness or REM sleep. Asymmetries in NREM SWA did not occur after vehicle injections. Furthermore, microinjections, during wakefulness, of a polyclonal anti-BDNF antibody or K252a, an inhibitor of BDNF TrkB receptors, led to a local SWA decrease during the following sleep period. These effects were also reversible and specific for NREM sleep. These results show a causal link between BDNF expression during wakefulness and subsequent sleep regulation.
PMCID: PMC2597531  PMID: 18400908
sleep homeostasis; cerebral cortex; EEG; rat; BDNF; Synaptic Plasticity
Neuronal firing patterns, neuromodulators, and cerebral metabolism change across sleep waking states, and the synaptic release of glutamate is critically involved in these processes. Extrasynaptic glutamate can also affect neural function and may be neurotoxic, but whether and how extracellular glutamate is regulated across sleep-waking states is unclear. To assess the effect of behavioral state on extracellular glutamate at high temporal resolution, we recorded glutamate concentration in prefrontal and motor cortex using fixed-potential amperometry in freely behaving rats. Simultaneously, we recorded local field potentials (LFP) and electroencephalograms (EEG) from contralateral cortex. We observed dynamic, progressive changes in the concentration of glutamate that switched direction as a function of behavioral state. Specifically, the concentration of glutamate increased progressively during waking (0.329 ± 0.06 %/min) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (0.349 ±0.13 %/min). This increase was opposed by a progressive decrease during non-REM (NREM) sleep (0.338 ± 0.06 %/min). During a 3-hr sleep deprivation period, glutamate concentrations initially exhibited the progressive rise observed during spontaneous waking. As sleep pressure increased, glutamate concentrations ceased to increase and began decreasing despite continuous waking. During NREM sleep, the rate of decrease in glutamate was positively correlated with sleep intensity, as indexed by LFP slow wave activity. The rate of decrease doubled during recovery sleep after sleep deprivation. Thus, the progressive increase in cortical extrasynaptic glutamate during EEG-activated states is counteracted by a decrease during NREM sleep that is modulated by sleep pressure. These results provide evidence for a long-term homeostasis of extracellular glutamate across sleep-waking states.
PMCID: PMC2770705  PMID: 19158289
glutamate; in vivo amperometry; sleep; rat; cerebral cortex; EEG; slow wave activity
12.  TMS-Induced Cortical Potentiation during Wakefulness Locally Increases Slow Wave Activity during Sleep 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(3):e276.
Sleep slow wave activity (SWA) is thought to reflect sleep need, increasing in proportion to the length of prior wakefulness and decreasing during sleep. However, the process responsible for SWA regulation is not known. We showed recently that SWA increases locally after a learning task involving a circumscribed brain region, suggesting that SWA may reflect plastic changes triggered by learning.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To test this hypothesis directly, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in conjunction with high-density EEG in humans. We show that 5-Hz TMS applied to motor cortex induces a localized potentiation of TMS-evoked cortical EEG responses. We then show that, in the sleep episode following 5-Hz TMS, SWA increases markedly (+39.1±17.4%, p<0.01, n = 10). Electrode coregistration with magnetic resonance images localized the increase in SWA to the same premotor site as the maximum TMS-induced potentiation during wakefulness. Moreover, the magnitude of potentiation during wakefulness predicts the local increase in SWA during sleep.
These results provide direct evidence for a link between plastic changes and the local regulation of sleep need.
PMCID: PMC1803030  PMID: 17342210
13.  Measures of cortical plasticity after transcranial paired associative stimulation predict changes in EEG slow-wave activity during subsequent sleep 
Sleep slow wave activity (SWA) is thought to reflect sleep need, increasing in proportion to the prior time awake and decreasing during sleep, though the underlying mechanisms are unclear. Recent studies have shown that procedures presumably leading to local plastic changes in the cerebral cortex can lead to local changes in SWA during subsequent sleep. To further investigate the connection between cortical plasticity and sleep SWA, in this study we employed a paired associative stimulation (PAS) protocol, in which median nerve stimuli were followed at different intervals (25 or 10 ms) by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses to the contralateral cortical hand area. As expected, such a protocol lead to a sustained increase (LTP-like) or decrease (LTD-like) of cortical excitability as measured by motor evoked potentials. By employing a TMS-compatible high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) system, we also found that, in individual subjects, TMS-evoked cortical responses over sensorimotor cortex changed with different interstimulus intervals. Moreover, during subsequent sleep, SWA increased locally in subjects whose TMS-evoked cortical responses had increased after PAS, and decreased in subjects whose cortical responses had decreased. Changes in TMS-evoked cortical EEG response and change in sleep SWA were localized to similar cortical regions and were positively correlated. Together, these results suggest that changes in cortical excitability in opposite directions lead to corresponding changes in local sleep regulation, as reflected by SWA, providing evidence for a tight relationship between cortical plasticity and sleep intensity.
PMCID: PMC2809373  PMID: 18667623
sleep homeostasis; synaptic plasticity; high-density EEG; transcranial magnetic stimulation; slow oscillations; cortical excitability
14.  DQB1*0602 predicts interindividual differences in physiologic sleep, sleepiness, and fatigue 
Neurology  2010;75(17):1509-1519.
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) DQB1*0602 allele is closely associated with narcolepsy, a neurologic disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, fragmented sleep, and shortened REM sleep latency. We evaluated whether DQB1*0602 was a novel marker of interindividual differences by determining its relationship to sleep homeostatic, sleepiness, and cognitive responses to baseline and chronic partial sleep deprivation (PSD) conditions.
Ninety-two DQB1*0602-negative and 37 DQB1*0602-positive healthy adults participated in a protocol of 2 baseline 10 hours time in bed (TIB) nights followed by 5 consecutive 4 hours TIB nights. DQB1*0602 allelic frequencies did not differ significantly between Caucasians and African Americans.
During baseline, although DQB1*0602-positive subjects were subjectively sleepier and more fatigued, they showed greater sleep fragmentation, and decreased sleep homeostatic pressure and differentially sharper declines during the night (measured by non-REM EEG slow-wave energy [SWE]). During PSD, DQB1*0602-positive subjects were sleepier and showed more fragmented sleep, despite SWE elevation comparable to negative subjects. Moreover, they showed differentially greater REM sleep latency reductions and smaller stage 2 reductions, along with differentially greater increases in fatigue. Both groups demonstrated comparable cumulative decreases in cognitive performance.
DQB1*0602 positivity in a healthy population may represent a continuum of some sleep–wake features of narcolepsy. DQB1*0602 was associated with interindividual differences in sleep homeostasis, physiologic sleep, sleepiness, and fatigue—but not in cognitive measures—during baseline and chronic PSD. Thus, DQB1*0602 may represent a genetic biomarker for predicting such individual differences in basal and sleep loss conditions.
= analysis of variance;
= Controlled Oral Word Association Test;
= Digit Span;
= Digit Symbol Substitution Task;
= human leukocyte antigen;
= Karolinska Sleepiness Scale;
= Maintenance of Wakefulness Test;
= Profile of Mood States;
= partial sleep deprivation;
= polysomnography;
= Psychomotor Vigilance Task;
= sleep onset latency;
= sleep deprivation/restriction;
= slow-wave activity;
= slow-wave energy;
= time in bed;
= Tower of London;
= total sleep deprivation;
= visual analog scale;
= wake after sleep onset.
PMCID: PMC2974463  PMID: 20975052
15.  Cortical firing and sleep homeostasis 
Neuron  2009;63(6):865-878.
The need to sleep grows with the duration of wakefulness and dissipates with time spent asleep, a process called sleep homeostasis. What are the consequences of staying awake on brain cells, and why is sleep needed? Surprisingly, we do not know whether the firing of cortical neurons is affected by how long an animal has been awake or asleep. Here we found that after sustained wakefulness cortical neurons fire at higher frequencies in all behavioral states. During early NREM sleep after sustained wakefulness, periods of population activity (ON) are short, frequent, and associated with synchronous firing, while periods of neuronal silence are long and frequent. After sustained sleep, firing rates and synchrony decrease, while the duration of ON periods increases. Changes in firing patterns in NREM sleep correlate with changes in slow-wave-activity, a marker of sleep homeostasis. Thus, the systematic increase of firing during wakefulness is counterbalanced by staying asleep.
PMCID: PMC2819325  PMID: 19778514
slow wave sleep; slow oscillations; EEG; rat; cerebral cortex; multi-unit recording
16.  Hippocampal Sleep Features: Relations to Human Memory Function 
The recent spread of intracranial electroencephalographic (EEG) recording techniques for presurgical evaluation of drug-resistant epileptic patients is providing new information on the activity of different brain structures during both wakefulness and sleep. The interest has been mainly focused on the medial temporal lobe, and in particular the hippocampal formation, whose peculiar local sleep features have been recently described, providing support to the idea that sleep is not a spatially global phenomenon. The study of the hippocampal sleep electrophysiology is particularly interesting because of its central role in the declarative memory formation. Recent data indicate that sleep contributes to memory formation. Therefore, it is relevant to understand whether specific patterns of activity taking place during sleep are related to memory consolidation processes. Fascinating similarities between different states of consciousness (wakefulness, REM sleep, non-REM sleep) in some electrophysiological mechanisms underlying cognitive processes have been reported. For instance, large-scale synchrony in gamma activity is important for waking memory and perception processes, and its changes during sleep may be the neurophysiological substrate of sleep-related deficits of declarative memory. Hippocampal activity seems to specifically support memory consolidation during sleep, through specific coordinated neurophysiological events (slow waves, spindles, ripples) that would facilitate the integration of new information into the pre-existing cortical networks. A few studies indeed provided direct evidence that rhinal ripples as well as slow hippocampal oscillations are correlated with memory consolidation in humans. More detailed electrophysiological investigations assessing the specific relations between different types of memory consolidation and hippocampal EEG features are in order. These studies will add an important piece of knowledge to the elucidation of the ultimate sleep function.
PMCID: PMC3327976  PMID: 22529835
hippocampus; stereo-EEG; memory consolidation; local sleep; brain rhythms; oscillations
17.  Enhancement of sleep slow waves: underlying mechanisms and practical consequences 
Even modest sleep restriction, especially the loss of sleep slow wave activity (SWA), is invariably associated with slower electroencephalogram (EEG) activity during wake, the occurrence of local sleep in an otherwise awake brain, and impaired performance due to cognitive and memory deficits. Recent studies not only confirm the beneficial role of sleep in memory consolidation, but also point to a specific role for sleep slow waves. Thus, the implementation of methods to enhance sleep slow waves without unwanted arousals or lightening of sleep could have significant practical implications. Here we first review the evidence that it is possible to enhance sleep slow waves in humans using transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Since these methods are currently impractical and their safety is questionable, especially for chronic long-term exposure, we then discuss novel data suggesting that it is possible to enhance slow waves using sensory stimuli. We consider the physiology of the K-complex (KC), a peripheral evoked slow wave, and show that, among different sensory modalities, acoustic stimulation is the most effective in increasing the magnitude of slow waves, likely through the activation of non-lemniscal ascending pathways to the thalamo-cortical system. In addition, we discuss how intensity and frequency of the acoustic stimuli, as well as exact timing and pattern of stimulation, affect sleep enhancement. Finally, we discuss automated algorithms that read the EEG and, in real-time, adjust the stimulation parameters in a closed-loop manner to obtain an increase in sleep slow waves and avoid undesirable arousals. In conclusion, while discussing the mechanisms that underlie the generation of sleep slow waves, we review the converging evidence showing that acoustic stimulation is safe and represents an ideal tool for slow wave sleep (SWS) enhancement.
PMCID: PMC4211398  PMID: 25389394
EEG; acoustic stimulation; arousal systems; closed-loop; NREM sleep
18.  Cerebral lactate dynamics across sleep/wake cycles 
Cerebral metabolism varies dramatically as a function of sleep state. Brain concentration of lactate, the end product of glucose utilization via glycolysis, varies as a function of sleep state, and like slow wave activity (SWA) in the electroencephalogram (EEG), increases as a function of time spent awake or in rapid eye movement sleep and declines as a function of time spent in slow wave sleep (SWS). We sought to determine whether lactate concentration exhibits homeostatic dynamics akin to those of SWA in SWS. Lactate concentration in the cerebral cortex was measured by indwelling enzymatic biosensors. A set of equations based conceptually on Process S (previously used to quantify the homeostatic dynamics of SWA) was used to predict the sleep/wake state-dependent dynamics of lactate concentration in the cerebral cortex. Additionally, we applied an iterative parameter space-restricting algorithm (the Nelder-Mead method) to reduce computational time to find the optimal values of the free parameters. Compared to an exhaustive search, this algorithm reduced the computation time required by orders of magnitude. We show that state-dependent lactate concentration dynamics can be described by a homeostatic model, but that the optimal time constants for describing lactate dynamics are much smaller than those of SWA. This disconnect between lactate dynamics and SWA dynamics does not support the concept that lactate concentration is a biochemical mediator of sleep homeostasis. However, lactate synthesis in the cerebral cortex may nonetheless be informative with regard to sleep function, since the impact of glycolysis on sleep slow wave regulation is only just now being investigated.
PMCID: PMC4294128  PMID: 25642184
sleep; lactate; mathematical modeling; metabolism; optimization; process S; slow wave
19.  Functional Anatomy of Non-REM Sleep 
The state of non-REM sleep (NREM), or slow wave sleep, is associated with a synchronized EEG pattern in which sleep spindles and/or K complexes and high-voltage slow wave activity (SWA) can be recorded over the entire cortical surface. In humans, NREM is subdivided into stages 2 and 3–4 (presently named N3) depending on the proportions of each of these polygraphic events. NREM is necessary for normal physical and intellectual performance and behavior. An overview of the brain structures involved in NREM generation shows that the thalamus and the cerebral cortex are absolutely necessary for the most significant bioelectric and behavioral events of NREM to be expressed; other structures like the basal forebrain, anterior hypothalamus, cerebellum, caudal brain stem, spinal cord and peripheral nerves contribute to NREM regulation and modulation. In NREM stage 2, sustained hyperpolarized membrane potential levels resulting from interaction between thalamic reticular and projection neurons gives rise to spindle oscillations in the membrane potential; the initiation and termination of individual spindle sequences depends on corticothalamic activities. Cortical and thalamic mechanisms are also involved in the generation of EEG delta SWA that appears in deep stage 3–4 (N3) NREM; the cortex has classically been considered to be the structure that generates this activity, but delta oscillations can also be generated in thalamocortical neurons. NREM is probably necessary to normalize synapses to a sustainable basal condition that can ensure cellular homeostasis. Sleep homeostasis depends not only on the duration of prior wakefulness but also on its intensity, and sleep need increases when wakefulness is associated with learning. NREM seems to ensure cell homeostasis by reducing the number of synaptic connections to a basic level; based on simple energy demands, cerebral energy economizing during NREM sleep is one of the prevalent hypotheses to explain NREM homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3215999  PMID: 22110467
slow wave sleep; sleep need; thalamus–cerebral cortex unit; rostral hypnogenic system; caudal hypnogenic system; NREM sleep homeostasis
20.  Melanopsin as a Sleep Modulator: Circadian Gating of the Direct Effects of Light on Sleep and Altered Sleep Homeostasis in Opn4−/− Mice 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(6):e1000125.
Analyses in mice deficient for the blue-light-sensitive photopigment melanopsin show that direct effects of light on behavior and EEG depend on the time of day. The data further suggest an unexpected role for melanopsin in sleep homeostasis.
Light influences sleep and alertness either indirectly through a well-characterized circadian pathway or directly through yet poorly understood mechanisms. Melanopsin (Opn4) is a retinal photopigment crucial for conveying nonvisual light information to the brain. Through extensive characterization of sleep and the electrocorticogram (ECoG) in melanopsin-deficient (Opn4−/−) mice under various light–dark (LD) schedules, we assessed the role of melanopsin in mediating the effects of light on sleep and ECoG activity. In control mice, a light pulse given during the habitual dark period readily induced sleep, whereas a dark pulse given during the habitual light period induced waking with pronounced theta (7–10 Hz) and gamma (40–70 Hz) activity, the ECoG correlates of alertness. In contrast, light failed to induce sleep in Opn4−/− mice, and the dark-pulse-induced increase in theta and gamma activity was delayed. A 24-h recording under a LD 1-h∶1-h schedule revealed that the failure to respond to light in Opn4−/− mice was restricted to the subjective dark period. Light induced c-Fos immunoreactivity in the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) and in sleep-active ventrolateral preoptic (VLPO) neurons was importantly reduced in Opn4−/− mice, implicating both sleep-regulatory structures in the melanopsin-mediated effects of light. In addition to these acute light effects, Opn4−/− mice slept 1 h less during the 12-h light period of a LD 12∶12 schedule owing to a lengthening of waking bouts. Despite this reduction in sleep time, ECoG delta power, a marker of sleep need, was decreased in Opn4−/− mice for most of the (subjective) dark period. Delta power reached after a 6-h sleep deprivation was similarly reduced in Opn4−/− mice. In mice, melanopsin's contribution to the direct effects of light on sleep is limited to the dark or active period, suggesting that at this circadian phase, melanopsin compensates for circadian variations in the photo sensitivity of other light-encoding pathways such as rod and cones. Our study, furthermore, demonstrates that lack of melanopsin alters sleep homeostasis. These findings call for a reevaluation of the role of light on mammalian physiology and behavior.
Author Summary
Light affects sleep in two ways: indirectly through the phase adjustment of circadian rhythms and directly through nonvisual mechanisms that are independent of the circadian system. The direct effects of light include the promotion of sleep in night-active animals and of alertness in diurnal species. We analyzed sleep and the electroencephalogram (EEG) under various light–dark regimens in mice lacking melanopsin (Opn4−/−), a retinal photopigment crucial for conveying light-level information to the brain, to determine the role of melanopsin, as opposed to rod and cones, in mediating these direct effects of light. We show that melanopsin mediates the direct effects of light during the subjective dark period, whereas rods and cones contribute to these effects in the light period. Our finding that “sleep-active” (i.e., galanin-positive) neurons of the anterior hypothalamus are not activated by light in Opn4−/− mice suggests that these neurons are part of the circuitry whereby light promotes sleep. Also, the alerting effects of transitions into darkness were less pronounced in Opn4−/− mice judged on the reduced increase in EEG theta and gamma activity. Finally, and unexpectedly, the rate at which the need for sleep, quantified as EEG delta power, accumulated during wakefulness was found to be reduced in Opn4−/− mice both during baseline and sleep deprivation conditions, implicating a photopigment in the homeostatic regulation of sleep. We conclude that melanopsin contributes to the direct effects of light and darkness, and in interaction with circadian and homeostatic drive, determines the occurrence and quality of both sleep and waking. If confirmed in humans, our observations will have applications for the clinical use of light as well as for societal lighting conditions.
PMCID: PMC2688840  PMID: 19513122
21.  Antidepressant Effects of Selective Slow Wave Sleep Deprivation in Major Depression: A High-Density EEG Investigation 
Journal of psychiatric research  2011;45(8):1019-1026.
Sleep deprivation can acutely reverse depressive symptoms in some patients with major depression. Because abnormalities in slow wave sleep are one of the most consistent biological markers of depression, it is plausible that the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation are due to the effects on slow wave homeostasis. This study tested the prediction that selectively reducing slow waves during sleep (slow wave deprivation; SWD), without disrupting total sleep time, will lead to an acute reduction in depressive symptomatology. As part of a multi-night, cross-over design study, participants with major depression (non-medicated; n = 17) underwent baseline, SWD, and recovery sleep sessions, and were recorded with high-density EEG (hdEEG). During SWD, acoustic stimuli were played to suppress subsequent slow waves, without waking up the participant. The effects of SWD on depressive symptoms were assessed with both self-rated and researcher-administered scales. Participants experienced a significant decrease in depressive symptoms according to both self-rated (p = .007) and researcher-administered (p = .010) scales, while vigilance was unaffected. The reduction in depressive symptoms correlated with the overnight dissipation of fronto-central slow wave activity (SWA) on baseline sleep, the rebound in right frontal all-night SWA on recovery sleep, and the amount of REM sleep on the SWD night. In addition to highlighting the benefits of hdEEG in detecting regional changes in brain activity, these findings suggest that SWD may help to better understand the pathophysiology of depression and may be a useful tool for the neuromodulatory reversal of depressive symptomatology.
PMCID: PMC3119746  PMID: 21397252
Depression; Slow Wave Deprivation; Sleep Deprivation; Slow Wave Sleep; Sleep Homeostasis; high-density EEG
22.  Sleep active cortical neurons expressing neuronal nitric oxide synthase are active after both acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction 
Neuroscience  2013;247:35-42.
Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep electroencephalographic (EEG) delta power (∼0.5 to 4 Hz), also known as slow wave activity (SWA), is typically enhanced after acute sleep deprivation (SD) but not after chronic sleep restriction (CSR). Recently, sleep-active cortical neurons expressing neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) were identified and associated with enhanced SWA after short acute bouts of SD (i.e., 6 h). However, the relationship between cortical nNOS neuronal activity and SWA during CSR is unknown. We com pared the activity of cortical neurons expressing nNOS (via c-Fos and nNOS immunoreactivity, respectively) and sleep in rats in 3 conditions: 1) after 18 h of acute SD; 2) after 5 consecutive days of sleep restriction (SR) (18 h SD per day with 6 h ad libitum sleep opportunity per day); 3) and time-of-day matched ad libitum sleep controls. Cortical nNOS neuronal activity was enhanced during sleep after both 18 h SD and 5 days of SR treatments compared to control treatments. SWA and NREM sleep delta energy (the product of NREM sleep duration and SWA) were positively correlated with enhanced cortical nNOS neuronal activity after 18 h SD but not 5 days of SR. That neurons expressing nNOS were active after longer amounts acute SD (18 h vs. 6 h reported in the literature) and were correlated with SWA further suggests that these cells might regulate SWA. However, since these neurons were active after CSR when SWA was not enhanced, these findings suggest that mechanisms downstream of their activation are altered during CSR.
PMCID: PMC3801181  PMID: 23685166
nNOS; slow wave activity; EEG; sleep restriction; sleep deprivation; c-Fos
23.  Hippocampal memory consolidation during sleep: a comparison of mammals and birds 
The transition from wakefulness to sleep is marked by pronounced changes in brain activity. The brain rhythms that characterize the two main types of mammalian sleep, slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, are thought to be involved in the functions of sleep. In particular, recent theories suggest that the synchronous slow-oscillation of neocortical neuronal membrane potentials, the defining feature of SWS, is involved in processing information acquired during wakefulness. According to the Standard Model of memory consolidation, during wakefulness the hippocampus receives input from neocortical regions involved in the initial encoding of an experience and binds this information into a coherent memory trace that is then transferred to the neocortex during SWS where it is stored and integrated within preexisting memory traces. Evidence suggests that this process selectively involves direct connections from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a multimodal, high-order association region implicated in coordinating the storage and recall of remote memories in the neocortex. The slow-oscillation is thought to orchestrate the transfer of information from the hippocampus by temporally coupling hippocampal sharp-wave/ripples (SWRs) and thalamocortical spindles. SWRs are synchronous bursts of hippocampal activity, during which waking neuronal firing patterns are reactivated in the hippocampus and neocortex in a coordinated manner. Thalamocortical spindles are brief 7–14 Hz oscillations that may facilitate the encoding of information reactivated during SWRs. By temporally coupling the readout of information from the hippocampus with conditions conducive to encoding in the neocortex, the slow-oscillation is thought to mediate the transfer of information from the hippocampus to the neocortex. Although several lines of evidence are consistent with this function for mammalian SWS, it is unclear whether SWS serves a similar function in birds, the only taxonomic group other than mammals to exhibit SWS and REM sleep. Based on our review of research on avian sleep, neuroanatomy, and memory, although involved in some forms of memory consolidation, avian sleep does not appear to be involved in transferring hippocampal memories to other brain regions. Despite exhibiting the slow-oscillation, SWRs and spindles have not been found in birds. Moreover, although birds independently evolved a brain region – the caudolateral nidopallium (NCL) – involved in performing high-order cognitive functions similar to those performed by the PFC, direct connections between the NCL and hippocampus have not been found in birds, and evidence for the transfer of information from the hippocampus to the NCL or other extra-hippocampal regions is lacking. Although based on the absence of evidence for various traits, collectively, these findings suggest that unlike mammalian SWS, avian SWS may not be involved in transferring memories from the hippocampus. Furthermore, it suggests that the slow-oscillation, the defining feature of mammalian and avian SWS, may serve a more general function independent of that related to coordinating the transfer of information from the hippocampus to the PFC in mammals. Given that SWS is homeostatically regulated (a process intimately related to the slow-oscillation) in mammals and birds, functional hypotheses linked to this process may apply to both taxonomic groups.
PMCID: PMC3117012  PMID: 21070585
slow-wave sleep; rapid eye movement sleep; homeostasis; sharp-wave ripple; theta; spindle; neostriatum caudolaterale; prefrontal cortex; hippocampus; long-term memory
24.  Reduced Slow-Wave Rebound during Daytime Recovery Sleep in Middle-Aged Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43224.
Cortical synchronization during NREM sleep, characterized by electroencephalographic slow waves (SW <4Hz and >75 µV), is strongly related to the number of hours of wakefulness prior to sleep and to the quality of the waking experience. Whether a similar increase in wakefulness length leads to a comparable enhancement in NREM sleep cortical synchronization in young and older subjects is still a matter of debate in the literature. Here we evaluated the impact of 25-hours of wakefulness on SW during a daytime recovery sleep episode in 29 young (27y ±5), and 34 middle-aged (51y ±5) subjects. We also assessed whether age-related changes in NREM sleep cortical synchronization predicts the ability to maintain sleep during daytime recovery sleep. Compared to baseline sleep, sleep efficiency was lower during daytime recovery sleep in both age-groups but the effect was more prominent in the middle-aged than in the young subjects. In both age groups, SW density, amplitude, and slope increased whereas SW positive and negative phase duration decreased during daytime recovery sleep compared to baseline sleep, particularly in anterior brain areas. Importantly, compared to young subjects, middle-aged participants showed lower SW density rebound and SW positive phase duration enhancement after sleep deprivation during daytime recovery sleep. Furthermore, middle-aged subjects showed lower SW amplitude and slope enhancements after sleep deprivation than young subjects in frontal and prefrontal derivations only. None of the SW characteristics at baseline were associated with daytime recovery sleep efficiency. Our results support the notion that anterior brain areas elicit and may necessitate more intense recovery and that aging reduces enhancement of cortical synchronization after sleep loss, particularly in these areas. Age-related changes in the quality of wake experience may underlie age-related reduction in markers of cortical synchronization enhancement after sustained wakefulness.
PMCID: PMC3418233  PMID: 22912833
25.  Functional Structure of Spontaneous Sleep Slow Oscillation Activity in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7601.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2762602  PMID: 19855839

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