Topographical distribution of spindles: variations between and within nrem sleep cycles

L De Gennaro, M Ferrara, M Bertini
Sleep Research Online: SRO 2000, 3 (4): 155-60
Spindle density, visually scored in the 12-15 Hz range over antero-posterior midline derivations, was assessed during a baseline night in ten normal subjects. Sleep spindles were found to be highly variable between subjects and more abundant during Stage 2. Topographical distribution of spindle density showed a centroparietal prevalence, stable between NREM sleep stages. Intra-night variations of spindle density exhibited a linear increase across consecutive NREM episodes, suggesting an inverse relation with the time course of slow wave sleep. Except for occipital leads reaching a maximum during the third NREM cycle and then decreasing, changes in spindle density across sleep cycles were similar over different derivations. Intra-cycle variations fit a fourth-order polynomial curve with a minimum in the middle part of each sleep episode (when most slow wave sleep is expressed); this intra-cycle trend also seems stable between derivations and consecutive sleep cycles. These results confirm and extend, to the level of macroscopic EEG, the reciprocal relationship between sigma and delta waves previously shown by spectral analysis of EEG frequencies and, at a neuronal level in the thalamocortical network, by changes of membrane potentials that oscillate in the frequency range of spindles or delta at different levels of hyperpolarization.

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