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1.  Regional Slow Waves and Spindles in Human Sleep 
Neuron  2011;70(1):153-169.
The most prominent EEG events in sleep are slow waves, reflecting a slow (<1 Hz) oscillation between up and down states in cortical neurons. It is unknown whether slow oscillations are synchronous across the majority or the minority of brain regions—are they a global or local phenomenon? To examine this, we recorded simultaneously scalp EEG, intracerebral EEG, and unit firing in multiple brain regions of neurosurgical patients. We find that most sleep slow waves and the underlying active and inactive neuronal states occur locally. Thus, especially in late sleep, some regions can be active while others are silent. We also find that slow waves can propagate, usually from medial prefrontal cortex to the medial temporal lobe and hippocampus. Sleep spindles, the other hallmark of NREM sleep EEG, are likewise predominantly local. Thus, intracerebral communication during sleep is constrained because slow and spindle oscillations often occur out-of-phase in different brain regions.
PMCID: PMC3108825  PMID: 21482364
2.  Synchronization of Isolated Downstates (K-Complexes) May Be Caused by Cortically-Induced Disruption of Thalamic Spindling 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(9):e1003855.
Sleep spindles and K-complexes (KCs) define stage 2 NREM sleep (N2) in humans. We recently showed that KCs are isolated downstates characterized by widespread cortical silence. We demonstrate here that KCs can be quasi-synchronous across scalp EEG and across much of the cortex using electrocorticography (ECOG) and localized transcortical recordings (bipolar SEEG). We examine the mechanism of synchronous KC production by creating the first conductance based thalamocortical network model of N2 sleep to generate both spontaneous spindles and KCs. Spontaneous KCs are only observed when the model includes diffuse projections from restricted prefrontal areas to the thalamic reticular nucleus (RE), consistent with recent anatomical findings in rhesus monkeys. Modeled KCs begin with a spontaneous focal depolarization of the prefrontal neurons, followed by depolarization of the RE. Surprisingly, the RE depolarization leads to decreased firing due to disrupted spindling, which in turn is due to depolarization-induced inactivation of the low-threshold Ca2+ current (IT). Further, although the RE inhibits thalamocortical (TC) neurons, decreased RE firing causes decreased TC cell firing, again because of disrupted spindling. The resulting abrupt removal of excitatory input to cortical pyramidal neurons then leads to the downstate. Empirically, KCs may also be evoked by sensory stimuli while maintaining sleep. We reproduce this phenomenon in the model by depolarization of either the RE or the widely-projecting prefrontal neurons. Again, disruption of thalamic spindling plays a key role. Higher levels of RE stimulation also cause downstates, but by directly inhibiting the TC neurons. SEEG recordings from the thalamus and cortex in a single patient demonstrated the model prediction that thalamic spindling significantly decreases before KC onset. In conclusion, we show empirically that KCs can be widespread quasi-synchronous cortical downstates, and demonstrate with the first model of stage 2 NREM sleep a possible mechanism whereby this widespread synchrony may arise.
Author Summary
EEG in the most common stage of human sleep is dominated by K-complexes (KCs) and sleep spindles (bursts of 10–14 Hz oscillations) occupying the thalamus and cortex. Recently, we discovered that KCs are brief moments when the cortex becomes almost completely silent. Here, using recordings directly from the cortex of epileptic patients, we show that KCs can be quasi-synchronous across widespread cortical areas, and ask what mechanism could produce such a phenomenon. We created the first network model of realistic cortical and thalamic neurons, which spontaneously generate KCs as well as sleep spindles. We showed that the membrane channels in the reticular nucleus of the thalamus can be inactivated by excitatory inputs from the cortex, and this disrupts the spindle-generating network, which can trigger widespread cortical silence. The model prediction that thalamic spindle disruption occurs prior to KC was then observed in simultaneous recordings from the human thalamus and cortex. Understanding the cellular and network mechanisms whereby KCs arise is crucial to understanding its roles in maintaining sleep and consolidating memories.
PMCID: PMC4177663  PMID: 25255217
3.  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
4.  Electrophysiological correlates of sleep homeostasis in freely behaving rats 
Progress in brain research  2011;193:17-38.
The electrical activity of the brain does not only reflect the current level of arousal, ongoing behavior or involvement in a specific task, but is also influenced by what kind of activity, and how much sleep and waking occurred before. The best marker of sleep-wake history is the electroencephalogram (EEG) spectral power in slow frequencies (slow-wave activity, 0.5–4 Hz, SWA) during sleep, which is high after extended wakefulness and low after consolidated sleep. While sleep homeostasis has been well characterized in various species and experimental paradigms, the specific mechanisms underlying homeostatic changes in brain activity or their functional significance remain poorly understood. However, several recent studies in humans, rats and computer simulations shed light on the cortical mechanisms underlying sleep regulation. First, it was found that the homeostatic changes in SWA can be fully accounted for by the variations in amplitude and slope of EEG slow waves, which are in turn determined by the efficacy of cortico-cortical connectivity. Specifically, the slopes of sleep slow waves were steeper in early sleep compared to late sleep. Second, the slope of cortical evoked potentials, which is an established marker of synaptic strength, was steeper after waking and decreased after sleep. Furthermore, cortical long-term potentiation (LTP) was partially occluded if it was induced after a period of waking, but it could again be fully expressed after sleep. Finally, multiunit activity recordings during sleep revealed that cortical neurons fired more synchronously after waking, and less so after a period of consolidated sleep. The decline of all these electrophysiological measures - the slopes of slow waves and evoked potentials and neuronal synchrony – during sleep correlated with the decline of the traditional marker of sleep homeostasis, EEG SWA. Taken together, these data suggest that homeostatic changes in sleep EEG are the result of altered neuronal firing and synchrony, which in turn arise from changes in functional neuronal connectivity.
PMCID: PMC3160719  PMID: 21854953
sleep homeostasis; synaptic homeostasis; multiunit activity; neurons; cortex
5.  Human Gamma Oscillations during Slow Wave Sleep 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e33477.
Neocortical local field potentials have shown that gamma oscillations occur spontaneously during slow-wave sleep (SWS). At the macroscopic EEG level in the human brain, no evidences were reported so far. In this study, by using simultaneous scalp and intracranial EEG recordings in 20 epileptic subjects, we examined gamma oscillations in cerebral cortex during SWS. We report that gamma oscillations in low (30–50 Hz) and high (60–120 Hz) frequency bands recurrently emerged in all investigated regions and their amplitudes coincided with specific phases of the cortical slow wave. In most of the cases, multiple oscillatory bursts in different frequency bands from 30 to 120 Hz were correlated with positive peaks of scalp slow waves (“IN-phase” pattern), confirming previous animal findings. In addition, we report another gamma pattern that appears preferentially during the negative phase of the slow wave (“ANTI-phase” pattern). This new pattern presented dominant peaks in the high gamma range and was preferentially expressed in the temporal cortex. Finally, we found that the spatial coherence between cortical sites exhibiting gamma activities was local and fell off quickly when computed between distant sites. Overall, these results provide the first human evidences that gamma oscillations can be observed in macroscopic EEG recordings during sleep. They support the concept that these high-frequency activities might be associated with phasic increases of neural activity during slow oscillations. Such patterned activity in the sleeping brain could play a role in off-line processing of cortical networks.
PMCID: PMC3319559  PMID: 22496749
6.  Urodynamic function during sleep-like brain states in urethane anesthetized rats 
Neuroscience  2016;313:73-82.
•Spontaneous changes in sleep-like EEG state occur in urethane-anesthetized rats.•The micturition threshold is increased during the slow wave sleep-like state.•Micturition-related activity of PAG neurons was reduced during slow wave EEG states.•Changes in sleep-like EEG state may impact PAG-mediated control of bodily systems.
The aim was to investigate urodynamic parameters and functional excitability of the periaqueductal gray matter (PAG) during changes in sleep-like brain states in urethane anesthetized rats. Simultaneous recordings of detrusor pressure, external urethral sphincter (EUS) electromyogram (EMG), cortical electroencephalogram (EEG), and single-unit activity in the PAG were made during repeated voiding induced by continuous infusion of saline into the bladder.
The EEG cycled between synchronized, high-amplitude slow wave activity (SWA) and desynchronized low-amplitude fast activity similar to slow wave and ‘activated’ sleep-like brain states. During (SWA, 0.5–1.5 Hz synchronized oscillation of the EEG waveform) voiding became more irregular than in the ‘activated’ brain state (2–5 Hz low-amplitude desynchronized EEG waveform) and detrusor void pressure threshold, void volume threshold and the duration of bursting activity in the external urethral sphincter EMG were raised. The spontaneous firing rate of 23/52 neurons recorded within the caudal PAG and adjacent tegmentum was linked to the EEG state, with the majority of responsive cells (92%) firing more slowly during SWA. Almost a quarter of the cells recorded (12/52) showed phasic changes in firing rate that were linked to the occurrence of voids. Inhibition (n = 6), excitation (n = 4) or excitation/inhibition (n = 2) was seen. The spontaneous firing rate of 83% of the micturition-responsive cells was sensitive to changes in EEG state. In nine of the 12 responsive cells (75%) the responses were reduced during SWA.
We propose that during different sleep-like brain states changes in urodynamic properties occur which may be linked to changing excitability of the micturition circuitry in the periaqueductal gray.
PMCID: PMC4693403  PMID: 26601774
EEG, electroencephalogram; EMG, electromyogram; EUS, external urethral sphincter; PAG, periaqueductal gray matter; REM, rapid eye movement; SEM, standard error of the mean; STFT, short-term Fourier transform; SWA, slow wave activity; vlPAG, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray matter; micturition; urethane; sleep-like EEG state; periaqueductal gray; rat; bladder urodynamics
7.  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
8.  Cortical Plasticity Induced by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation during Wakefulness Affects Electroencephalogram Activity during Sleep 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2483.
Sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) brain oscillations in the low-frequency range show local signs of homeostatic regulation after learning. Such increases and decreases of slow wave activity are limited to the cortical regions involved in specific task performance during wakefulness. Here, we test the hypothesis that reorganization of motor cortex produced by long-term potentiation (LTP) affects EEG activity of this brain area during subsequent sleep.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By pairing median nerve stimulation with transcranial magnetic stimulation over the contralateral motor cortex, one can potentiate the motor output, which is presumed to reflect plasticity of the neural circuitry. This paired associative stimulation increases M1 cortical excitability at interstimulus intervals of 25 ms. We compared the scalp distribution of sleep EEG power following paired associative stimulation at 25 ms to that following a control paradigm with 50 ms intervals. It is shown that the experimental manipulation by paired associative stimulation at 25 ms induces a 48% increase in amplitude of motor evoked potentials. This LTP-like potentiation, induced during waking, affects delta and theta EEG power in both REM and non-REM sleep, measured during the following night. Slow-wave activity increases in some frontal and prefrontal derivations and decreases at sites neighboring and contralateral to the stimulated motor cortex. The magnitude of increased amplitudes of motor evoked potentials by the paired associative stimulation at 25 ms predicts enhancements of slow-wave activity in prefrontal regions.
An LTP-like paradigm, presumably inducing increased synaptic strength, leads to changes in local sleep regulation, as indexed by EEG slow-wave activity. Enhancement and depression of slow-wave activity are interpreted in terms of a simultaneous activation of both excitatory and inhibitory circuits consequent to the paired associative stimulation at 25 ms.
PMCID: PMC2423620  PMID: 18575583
9.  Thalamic Dysfunction in Schizophrenia Suggested by Whole-Night Deficits in Slow and Fast Spindles 
The American journal of psychiatry  2010;167(11):1339-1348.
Slow waves and sleep spindles are the two main oscillations occurring during NREM sleep. While slow oscillations are primarily generated and modulated by the cortex, sleep spindles are initiated by the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), and regulated by thalamo-reticular and thalamo-cortical circuits. In a recent high-density electroencephalographic (hd-EEG) study we found that 18 medicated schizophrenics had reduced sleep spindles compared to healthy and depressed subjects during the first NREM episode. Here we investigated whether spindle deficits were: a) present in a larger sample of schizophrenic patients; b) consistent across the night; c) related to antipsychotic medications; d) suggestive of impairments in specific neuronal circuits. Whole night hd-EEG recordings were performed in 49 schizophrenics, 20 non-schizophrenic patients on antipsychotics and 44 healthy subjects. In addition to sleep spindles, several parameters of slow waves were assessed. Schizophrenics had whole-night deficits in spindle power (12–16 Hz) and in slow (12–14 Hz) and fast (14–16 Hz) spindle amplitude, duration, number and integrated spindle activity (ISA) in prefrontal, centroparietal and temporal regions. ISA and spindle number had the largest effect sizes (ES≥2.21). By contrast, no slow wave deficits were found in schizophrenics. These results indicate that spindle deficits i) can be reliably established in schizophrenics, ii) are stable across the night, iii) are unlikely to be due to antipsychotic medications, and iv) point to deficits in TRN and thalamo-reticular circuits.
PMCID: PMC2970761  PMID: 20843876
10.  Laminar analysis of slow wave activity in humans 
Brain  2010;133(9):2814-2829.
Brain electrical activity is largely composed of oscillations at characteristic frequencies. These rhythms are hierarchically organized and are thought to perform important pathological and physiological functions. The slow wave is a fundamental cortical rhythm that emerges in deep non-rapid eye movement sleep. In animals, the slow wave modulates delta, theta, spindle, alpha, beta, gamma and ripple oscillations, thus orchestrating brain electrical rhythms in sleep. While slow wave activity can enhance epileptic manifestations, it is also thought to underlie essential restorative processes and facilitate the consolidation of declarative memories. Animal studies show that slow wave activity is composed of rhythmically recurring phases of widespread, increased cortical cellular and synaptic activity, referred to as active- or up-state, followed by cellular and synaptic inactivation, referred to as silent- or down-state. However, its neural mechanisms in humans are poorly understood, since the traditional intracellular techniques used in animals are inappropriate for investigating the cellular and synaptic/transmembrane events in humans. To elucidate the intracortical neuronal mechanisms of slow wave activity in humans, novel, laminar multichannel microelectrodes were chronically implanted into the cortex of patients with drug-resistant focal epilepsy undergoing cortical mapping for seizure focus localization. Intracortical laminar local field potential gradient, multiple-unit and single-unit activities were recorded during slow wave sleep, related to simultaneous electrocorticography, and analysed with current source density and spectral methods. We found that slow wave activity in humans reflects a rhythmic oscillation between widespread cortical activation and silence. Cortical activation was demonstrated as increased wideband (0.3–200 Hz) spectral power including virtually all bands of cortical oscillations, increased multiple- and single-unit activity and powerful inward transmembrane currents, mainly localized to the supragranular layers. Neuronal firing in the up-state was sparse and the average discharge rate of single cells was less than expected from animal studies. Action potentials at up-state onset were synchronized within ±10 ms across all cortical layers, suggesting that any layer could initiate firing at up-state onset. These findings provide strong direct experimental evidence that slow wave activity in humans is characterized by hyperpolarizing currents associated with suppressed cell firing, alternating with high levels of oscillatory synaptic/transmembrane activity associated with increased cell firing. Our results emphasize the major involvement of supragranular layers in the genesis of slow wave activity.
PMCID: PMC3105490  PMID: 20656697
current source density; unit activity; laminar recording; slow wave activity; sleep
11.  Sleep in the Human Hippocampus: A Stereo-EEG Study 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e867.
There is compelling evidence indicating that sleep plays a crucial role in the consolidation of new declarative, hippocampus-dependent memories. Given the increasing interest in the spatiotemporal relationships between cortical and hippocampal activity during sleep, this study aimed to shed more light on the basic features of human sleep in the hippocampus.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We recorded intracerebral stereo-EEG directly from the hippocampus and neocortical sites in five epileptic patients undergoing presurgical evaluations. The time course of classical EEG frequency bands during the first three NREM-REM sleep cycles of the night was evaluated. We found that delta power shows, also in the hippocampus, the progressive decrease across sleep cycles, indicating that a form of homeostatic regulation of delta activity is present also in this subcortical structure. Hippocampal sleep was also characterized by: i) a lower relative power in the slow oscillation range during NREM sleep compared to the scalp EEG; ii) a flattening of the time course of the very low frequencies (up to 1 Hz) across sleep cycles, with relatively high levels of power even during REM sleep; iii) a decrease of power in the beta band during REM sleep, at odds with the typical increase of power in the cortical recordings.
Our data imply that cortical slow oscillation is attenuated in the hippocampal structures during NREM sleep. The most peculiar feature of hippocampal sleep is the increased synchronization of the EEG rhythms during REM periods. This state of resonance may have a supportive role for the processing/consolidation of memory.
PMCID: PMC1959185  PMID: 17848998
12.  Visual stimuli modulate precise synchronous firing within the thalamus 
Thalamus & related systems  2008;4(1):21-34.
The work of Mircea Steriade demonstrated that the neocortex could synchronize large regions of the thalamus within 10–100 milliseconds (for review see Steriade and Timofeev, 2003, Steriade, 2005). Unlike the synchrony generated by the cortex, the retinal afferents synchronize a restricted group of neighboring thalamic neurons with <1-millisecond precision (Alonso et al., 1996, Yeh et al., 2003). Here, we use a large sample (n= 372) of simultaneous recordings from neighboring neurons in the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN) to illustrate the high specificity of the synchrony generated by retinal afferents and its dependency on sensory stimulation. First, we demonstrate that cells sharing a retinal afferent show a balanced receptive field diversity: while slight receptive field mismatches are common, the largest mismatches in a specific property (e.g. receptive field size) are restricted to cells that are precisely matched in other properties (e.g. receptive field overlap). Second, we show that these receptive field mismatches are functionally important and can lead to a 5-fold variation in the percentage of synchronous spikes driven by the shared retinal afferent under different stimulus conditions. Based on these and other findings, we speculate that the precise synchronous firing of cells sharing a retinal afferent could serve to amplify local stimuli that may be too brief and small to generate a large number of thalamic spikes.
PMCID: PMC2583133  PMID: 19011698
LGN; retinogeniculate; correlated firing; visual cortex; spike timing; thalamocortical
13.  Decoupling of Sleep-Dependent Cortical and Hippocampal Interactions in a Neurodevelopmental Model of Schizophrenia 
Neuron  2012;76(3):526-533.
Rhythmic neural network activity patterns are defining features of sleep, but interdependencies between limbic and cortical oscillations at different frequencies and their functional roles have not been fully resolved. This is particularly important given evidence linking abnormal sleep architecture and memory consolidation in psychiatric diseases. Using EEG, local field potential (LFP), and unit recordings in rats, we show that anteroposterior propagation of neocortical slow-waves coordinates timing of hippocampal ripples and prefrontal cortical spindles during NREM sleep. This coordination is selectively disrupted in a rat neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia: fragmented NREM sleep and impaired slow-wave propagation in the model culminate in deficient ripple-spindle coordination and disrupted spike timing, potentially as a consequence of interneuronal abnormalities reflected by reduced parvalbumin expression. These data further define the interrelationships among slow-wave, spindle, and ripple events, indicating that sleep disturbances may be associated with state-dependent decoupling of hippocampal and cortical circuits in psychiatric diseases.
► Abnormal neurodevelopment leads to fragmented NREM sleep in the MAM-E17 model ► Delta wave and spindle abnormalities match patterns of altered parvalbumin expression ► Spindle phase-locked units in frontal cortex fire during CA1 ripples in normal NREM ► Mistimed limbic-cortical oscillations during fragmented NREM may impair cognition
A restless pillow makes a ruffled mind? Investigating sleep architecture and associated neural network activity in an animal model of schizophrenia, Phillips et al. propose a new sleep-dependent mechanism for cognitive deficits in neuropsychiatric disease.
PMCID: PMC3898840  PMID: 23141065
14.  Properties of slow oscillation during slow-wave sleep and anesthesia in cats 
Deep anesthesia is commonly used as a model of slow-wave sleep (SWS). Ketamine-xylazine anesthesia reproduces the main features of sleep slow oscillation: slow, large amplitude waves in field potential, which are generated by the alternation of hyperpolarized and depolarized states of cortical neurons. However, direct quantitative comparison of field potential and membrane potential fluctuations during natural sleep and anesthesia is lacking, so it remains unclear how well the properties of sleep slow oscillation are reproduced by the ketamine-xylazine anesthesia model. Here, we used field potential and intracellular recordings in different cortical areas in the cat, to directly compare properties of slow oscillation during natural sleep and ketamine-xylazine anesthesia. During SWS cortical activity showed higher power in the slow/delta (0.1-4 Hz) and spindle (8-14 Hz) frequency range, while under anesthesia the power in the gamma band (30-100 Hz) was higher. During anesthesia, slow waves were more rhythmic and more synchronous across the cortex. Intracellular recordings revealed that silent states were longer and the amplitude of membrane potential around transition between active and silent states was bigger under anesthesia. Slow waves were largely uniform across cortical areas under anesthesia, but in SWS they were most pronounced in associative and visual areas, but smaller and less regular in somatosensory and motor cortices. We conclude that although the main features of the slow oscillation in sleep and anesthesia appear similar, multiple cellular and network features are differently expressed during natural SWS as compared to ketamine-xylazine anesthesia.
PMCID: PMC3209581  PMID: 22016533
Sleep; oscillations; synchrony; intracellular; anesthesia; ketamine-Xylazine
15.  Mapping of Cortical Activity in the First Two Decades of Life: A High-Density Sleep Electroencephalogram Study 
Evidence that electroencephalography (EEG) slow-wave activity (SWA) (EEG spectral power in the 1– 4.5 Hz band) during non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) reflects plastic changes is increasing (Tononi and Cirelli, 2006). Regional assessment of gray matter development from neuroimaging studies reveals a posteroanterior trajectory of cortical maturation in the first three decades of life (Shaw et al., 2008). Our aim was to test whether this regional cortical maturation is reflected in regional changes of sleep SWA. We evaluated all-night high-density EEG (128 channels) in 55 healthy human subjects (2.4 –19.4 years) and assessed age-related changes in NREM sleep topography. As in adults, we observed frequency-specific topographical distributions of sleep EEG power in all subjects. However, from early childhood to late adolescence, the location on the scalp showing maximal SWA underwent a shift from posterior to anterior regions. This shift along the posteroanterior axis was only present in the SWA frequency range and remained stable across the night. Changes in the topography of SWA during sleep parallel neuroimaging study findings indicating cortical maturation starts early in posterior areas and spreads rostrally over the frontal cortex. Thus, SWA might reflect the underlying processes of cortical maturation. In the future, sleep SWA assessments may be used as a clinical tool to detect aberrations in cortical maturation.
PMCID: PMC3010358  PMID: 20926647
16.  Essential Thalamic Contribution to Slow Waves of Natural Sleep 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(50):19599-19610.
Slow waves represent one of the prominent EEG signatures of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep and are thought to play an important role in the cellular and network plasticity that occurs during this behavioral state. These slow waves of natural sleep are currently considered to be exclusively generated by intrinsic and synaptic mechanisms within neocortical territories, although a role for the thalamus in this key physiological rhythm has been suggested but never demonstrated. Combining neuronal ensemble recordings, microdialysis, and optogenetics, here we show that the block of the thalamic output to the neocortex markedly (up to 50%) decreases the frequency of slow waves recorded during non-REM sleep in freely moving, naturally sleeping-waking rats. A smaller volume of thalamic inactivation than during sleep is required for observing similar effects on EEG slow waves recorded during anesthesia, a condition in which both bursts and single action potentials of thalamocortical neurons are almost exclusively dependent on T-type calcium channels. Thalamic inactivation more strongly reduces spindles than slow waves during both anesthesia and natural sleep. Moreover, selective excitation of thalamocortical neurons strongly entrains EEG slow waves in a narrow frequency band (0.75–1.5 Hz) only when thalamic T-type calcium channels are functionally active. These results demonstrate that the thalamus finely tunes the frequency of slow waves during non-REM sleep and anesthesia, and thus provide the first conclusive evidence that a dynamic interplay of the neocortical and thalamic oscillators of slow waves is required for the full expression of this key physiological EEG rhythm.
PMCID: PMC3858629  PMID: 24336724
17.  Sleep spindles in humans: insights from intracranial EEG and unit recordings 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2011;31(49):17821-17834.
Sleep spindles are an electroencephalographic (EEG) hallmark of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and are believed to mediate many sleep-related functions, from memory consolidation to cortical development. Spindles differ in location, frequency, and association with slow waves, but whether this heterogeneity may reflect different physiological processes and potentially serve different functional roles remains unclear. Here we utilized a unique opportunity to record intracranial depth EEG and single-unit activity in multiple brain regions of neurosurgical patients to better characterize spindle activity in human sleep. We find that spindles occur across multiple neocortical regions, and less frequently also in the parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus. Most spindles are spatially restricted to specific brain regions. In addition, spindle frequency is topographically organized with a sharp transition around the supplementary motor area between fast (13-15Hz) centroparietal spindles often occurring with slow wave up-states, and slow (9-12Hz) frontal spindles occurring 200ms later on average. Spindle variability across regions may reflect the underlying thalamocortical projections. We also find that during individual spindles, frequency decreases within and between regions. In addition, deeper sleep is associated with a reduction in spindle occurrence and spindle frequency. Frequency changes between regions, during individual spindles, and across sleep may reflect the same phenomenon, the underlying level of thalamocortical hyperpolarization. Finally, during spindles neuronal firing rates are not consistently modulated, although some neurons exhibit phase-locked discharges. Overall, anatomical considerations can account well for regional spindle characteristics, while variable hyperpolarization levels can explain differences in spindle frequency.
PMCID: PMC3270580  PMID: 22159098
18.  Remote effects of focal hippocampal seizures on the rat neocortex 
Seizures have both local and remote effects on nervous system function. While propagated seizures are known to disrupt cerebral activity, little work has been done on remote network effects of seizures that do not propagate. Human focal temporal lobe seizures demonstrate remote changes including slow waves on electroencephalography (EEG) and decreased cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the neocortex. Ictal neocortical slow waves have been interpreted as seizure propagation, however we hypothesize that they reflect a depressed cortical state resembling sleep or coma. To investigate this hypothesis, we performed multi-modal studies of partial and secondarily-generalized limbic seizures in rats. Video/EEG monitoring of spontaneous seizures revealed slow waves in the frontal cortex during behaviorally mild partial seizures, contrasted with fast poly-spike activity during convulsive generalized seizures. Seizures induced by hippocampal stimulation produced a similar pattern, and were used to perform functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) weighted for blood oxygenation (BOLD) and blood volume (CBV), demonstrating increased signals in hippocampus, thalamus and septum, but decreases in orbitofrontal, cingulate, and retrosplenial cortex during partial seizures; and increases in all these regions during propagated seizures. Combining these results with neuronal recordings and CBF measurements, we related neocortical slow waves to reduced neuronal activity and cerebral metabolism during partial seizures, but found increased neuronal activity and metabolism during propagated seizures. These findings suggest that ictal neocortical slow waves represent an altered cortical state of depressed function, not propagated seizure activity. This remote effect of partial seizures may cause impaired cerebral functions, including loss of consciousness.
PMCID: PMC2590649  PMID: 18768701
consciousness; BOLD decreases; cortex; fMRI; slow oscillations; temporal lobe epilepsy
19.  Sustaining sleep spindles through enhanced SK2 channel activity consolidates sleep and elevates arousal threshold 
Sleep spindles are synchronized 11–15 Hz electroencephalographic (EEG) oscillations predominant during non-rapid-eye-movement sleep (NREMS). Rhythmic bursting in the reticular thalamic nucleus (nRt), arising from interplay between Cav3.3-type Ca2+ channels and Ca2+-dependent small-conductance-type 2 (SK2) K+ channels, underlies spindle generation. Correlative evidence indicates that spindles contribute to memory consolidation and protection against environmental noise in human NREMS. Here, we describe a molecular mechanism through which spindle power is selectively extended and we probed the actions of intensified spindling in the naturally sleeping mouse. Using electrophysiological recordings in acute brain slices from SK2 channel-over-expressing (SK2-OE) mice, we found that nRt bursting was potentiated and thalamic circuit oscillations were prolonged. Moreover, nRt cells showed greater resilience to transit from burst to tonic discharge in response to gradual depolarization, mimicking transitions out of NREMS. Compared to wild-type littermates, chronic EEG recordings of SK2-OE mice contained less fragmented NREMS, while the NREMS EEG power spectrum was conserved. Furthermore, EEG spindle activity was prolonged at NREMS exit. Finally, when exposed to white noise, SK2-OE mice needed stronger stimuli to arouse. Increased nRt bursting thus strengthens spindles and improves sleep quality through mechanisms independent of EEG slow-waves (< 4 Hz), suggesting SK2 signaling as a new potential therapeutic target for sleep disorders and for neuropsychiatric diseases accompanied by weakened sleep spindles.
PMCID: PMC3658620  PMID: 23035101
20.  Cortico-Cerebellar Coherence and Causal Connectivity During Slow-Wave Activity 
Neuroscience  2009;166(2):698-711.
Cerebral cortical slow-wave activity (SWA) is prominent during sleep and also during ketamine-induced anesthesia. SWA in EEG recordings is closely linked to prominent fluctuations between up- and down-states in the membrane potential of pyramidal neurons. However, little is known about how the cerebellum is linked into SWA and whether slow oscillations influence sensory cerebellar responses. To examine these issues, we simultaneously recorded EEG from the cerebral cortex (SI, MI, and SMA), local field potentials at the input stage of cerebellar processing in the cerebellar granule cell layer (GCL) and inferior olive (IO), and single unit activity at the output stage of the cerebellum in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN). We found that in ketamine-anesthetized rats, SWA was synchronized between all recorded cortical areas and was phase locked with local field potentials of the GCL, IO, and single unit activity in the DCN. We found that cortical up-states are linked to activation of GCL neurons but to inhibition of cerebellar output from the DCN, with the latter an effect likely mediated by Purkinje cells. A partial coherence analysis showed further that a large portion of SWA shared between GCL and DCN was transmitted from the cortex, since the coherence shared between GCL and DCN was diminished when the effect of cortical activity was subtracted. To determine the causal flow of information between structures, a directed transfer function was calculated between the simultaneous activities of SI, MI, SMA, GCL and DCN. This analysis showed that the primary direction of information flow was from cortex to the cerebellum, and that SI had a stronger influence than other cortical areas on DCN activity. The strong functional connectivity with SI in particular is in agreement with previous findings of a strong cortical component in cerebellar sensory responses.
PMCID: PMC2823967  PMID: 20036719
Rat; Deep Cerebellar Nuclei; Cerebral Cortex; Single Unit Activity; Local Field Potential; Directed Transfer Function
21.  Large-Scale Cortical Dynamics of Sleep Slow Waves 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30757.
Slow waves constitute the main signature of sleep in the electroencephalogram (EEG). They reflect alternating periods of neuronal hyperpolarization and depolarization in cortical networks. While recent findings have demonstrated their functional role in shaping and strengthening neuronal networks, a large-scale characterization of these two processes remains elusive in the human brain. In this study, by using simultaneous scalp EEG and intracranial recordings in 10 epileptic subjects, we examined the dynamics of hyperpolarization and depolarization waves over a large extent of the human cortex. We report that both hyperpolarization and depolarization processes can occur with two different characteristic time durations which are consistent across all subjects. For both hyperpolarization and depolarization waves, their average speed over the cortex was estimated to be approximately 1 m/s. Finally, we characterized their propagation pathways by studying the preferential trajectories between most involved intracranial contacts. For both waves, although single events could begin in almost all investigated sites across the entire cortex, we found that the majority of the preferential starting locations were located in frontal regions of the brain while they had a tendency to end in posterior and temporal regions.
PMCID: PMC3281874  PMID: 22363484
22.  Sleep-Stage Correlates of Hippocampal Electroencephalogram in Primates 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82994.
It has been demonstrated in the rodent hippocampus that rhythmic slow activity (theta) predominantly occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, while sharp waves and associated ripples occur mainly during non-REM sleep. However, evidence is lacking for correlates of sleep stages with electroencephalogram (EEG) in the hippocampus of monkeys. In the present study, we recorded hippocampal EEG from the dentate gyrus in monkeys overnight under conditions of polysomnographical monitoring. As result, the hippocampal EEG changed in a manner similar to that of the surface EEG: during wakefulness, the hippocampal EEG showed fast, desynchronized waves, which were partly replaced with slower waves of intermediate amplitudes during the shallow stages of non-REM sleep. During the deep stages of non-REM sleep, continuous, slower oscillations (0.5–8 Hz) with high amplitudes were predominant. During REM sleep, the hippocampal EEG again showed fast, desynchronized waves similar to those found during wakefulness. These results indicate that in the monkey, hippocampal rhythmic slow activity rarely occurs during REM sleep, which is in clear contrast to that of rodents. In addition, the increase in the slower oscillations of hippocampal EEG during non-REM sleep, which resembled that of the surface EEG, may at least partly reflect cortical inputs to the dentate gyrus during this behavioral state.
PMCID: PMC3875423  PMID: 24386134
23.  Long-range correlation of the membrane potential in neocortical neurons during slow oscillation 
Progress in brain research  2011;193:181-199.
Large amplitude slow waves are characteristic for the summary brain activity, recorded as electroencephalogram (EEG) or local field potentials (LFP), during deep stages of sleep and some types of anesthesia. Slow rhythm of the synchronized EEG reflects an alternation of active (depolarized, UP) and silent (hyperpolarized, DOWN) states of neocortical neurons. In neurons, involvement in the generalized slow oscillation results in a long-range synchronization of changes of their membrane potential as well as their firing. Here, we aimed at intracellular analysis of details of this synchronization. We asked which components of neuronal activity exhibit long-range correlations during the synchronized EEG? To answer this question, we made simultaneous intracellular recordings from two to four neocortical neurons in cat neocortex. We studied how correlated is the occurrence of active and silent states, and how correlated are fluctuations of the membrane potential in pairs of neurons located close one to the other or separated by up to 13 mm. We show that strong long-range correlation of the membrane potential was observed only (i) during the slow oscillation but not during periods without the oscillation, (ii) during periods which included transitions between the states but not during within-the-state periods, and (iii) for the low-frequency (<5 Hz) components of membrane potential fluctuations but not for the higher-frequency components (>10 Hz). In contrast to the neurons located several millimeters one from the other, membrane potential fluctuations in neighboring neurons remain strongly correlated during periods without slow oscillation. We conclude that membrane potential correlation in distant neurons is brought about by synchronous transitions between the states, while activity within the states is largely uncorrelated. The lack of the generalized fine-scale synchronization of membrane potential changes in neurons during the active states of slow oscillation may allow individual neurons to selectively engage in short living episodes of correlated activity—a process that may be similar to dynamical formation of neuronal ensembles during activated brain states.
PMCID: PMC3397925  PMID: 21854963
intracellular recording; cat; sleep; synchrony
24.  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
25.  The Fate of Incoming Stimuli during NREM Sleep is Determined by Spindles and the Phase of the Slow Oscillation 
The present study aimed at identifying the neurophysiological responses associated with auditory stimulation during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep using simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG)/functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recordings. It was reported earlier that auditory stimuli produce bilateral activation in auditory cortex, thalamus, and caudate during both wakefulness and NREM sleep. However, due to the spontaneous membrane potential fluctuations cortical responses may be highly variable during NREM. Here we now examine the modulation of cerebral responses to tones depending on the presence or absence of sleep spindles and the phase of the slow oscillation. Thirteen healthy young subjects were scanned successfully during stage 2–4 NREM sleep in the first half of the night in a 3 T scanner. Subjects were not sleep-deprived and sounds were post hoc classified according to (i) the presence of sleep spindles or (ii) the phase of the slow oscillation during (±300 ms) tone delivery. These detected sounds were then entered as regressors of interest in fMRI analyses. Interestingly wake-like responses – although somewhat altered in size and location – persisted during NREM sleep, except during present spindles (as previously published in Dang-Vu et al., 2011) and the negative going phase of the slow oscillation during which responses became less consistent or even absent. While the phase of the slow oscillation did not alter brain responses in primary sensory cortex, it did modulate responses at higher cortical levels. In addition EEG analyses show a distinct N550 response to tones during the presence of light sleep spindles and suggest that in deep NREM sleep the brain is more responsive during the positive going slope of the slow oscillation. The presence of short temporal windows during which the brain is open to external stimuli is consistent with the fact that even during deep sleep meaningful events can be detected. Altogether, our results emphasize the notion that spontaneous fluctuations of brain activity profoundly modify brain responses to external information across all behavioral states, including deep NREM sleep.
PMCID: PMC3319907  PMID: 22493589
AEP; sleep; spindles; spontaneous activity; slow-wave phase; EEG/fMRI; fMRI; EEG

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