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Intracortical Causal Information Flow of Oscillatory Activity (Effective Connectivity) at the Sleep Onset Transition

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Fernandez Guerrero Antonio, Achermann Peter,
Project Sleep onset and other state transitions: insights from quantitative EEG analysis
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Frontiers in Neuroscience
Volume (Issue) 12
Page(s) 912
Title of proceedings Frontiers in Neuroscience
DOI 10.3389/fnins.2018.00912

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


We investigated the sleep onset transition in humans from an effective connectivity perspective in a baseline condition (approx. 16 h of wakefulness) and after sleep deprivation (40 h of sustained wakefulness). Using EEG recordings (27 derivations), source localization (LORETA) allowed us to reconstruct the underlying patterns of neuronal activity in various brain regions, e.g., the default mode network (DMN), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which were defined as regions of interest (ROI). We applied isolated effective coherence (iCOH) to assess effective connectivity patterns at the sleep onset transition [2 min prior to and 10 min after sleep onset (first occurrence of stage 2)]. ICOH reveals directionality aspects and resolves the spectral characteristics of information flow in a given network of ROIs. We observed an anterior-posterior decoupling of the DMN, and moreover, a prominent role of the posterior cingulate cortex guiding the process of the sleep onset transition, particularly, by transmitting information in the low frequency range (delta and theta bands) to other nodes of DMN (including the hippocampus). In addition, the midcingulate cortex appeared as a major cortical relay station for spindle synchronization (originating from the thalamus; sigma activity). The inclusion of hippocampus indicated that this region might be functionally involved in sigma synchronization observed in the cortex after sleep onset. Furthermore, under conditions of increased homeostatic pressure, we hypothesize that an anterior-posterior decoupling of the DMN occurred at a faster rate compared to baseline overall indicating weakened connectivity strength within the DMN. Finally, we also demonstrated that cortico-cortical spindle synchronization was less effective after sleep deprivation than in baseline, thus, reflecting the reduction of spindles under increased sleep pressure.