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Free Content Functional connectivity in slow‐wave sleep: identification of synchronous cortical activity during wakefulness and sleep using time series analysis of electroencephalographic data

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Sleep is a behavioral state ideal for studying functional connectivity because it minimizes many sources of between‐subject variability that confound waking analyses. This is particularly important for potential connectivity studies in mental illness where cognitive ability, internal milieu and active psychotic symptoms can vary widely across subjects. We, therefore, sought to adapt techniques applied to magnetoencephalography for use in high‐density electroencephalography (EEG), the gold‐standard in brain‐recording methods during sleep. Autoregressive integrative moving average modeling was used to reduce spurious correlations between recording sites (electrodes) in order to identify functional networks. We hypothesized that identified network characteristics would be similar to those found with magnetoencephalography, and would demonstrate sleep stage‐related differences in a control population. We analysed 60‐s segments of low‐artifact data from seven healthy human subjects during wakefulness and sleep. EEG analysis of eyes‐closed wakefulness revealed widespread nearest‐neighbor positive synchronous interactions, similar to magnetoencephalography, though less consistent across subjects. Rapid eye movement sleep demonstrated positive synchronous interactions akin to wakefulness but weaker. Slow‐wave sleep (SWS), instead, showed strong positive interactions in a large left fronto‐temporal‐parietal cluster markedly more consistent across subjects. Comparison of connectivity from early SWS to SWS from a later sleep cycle indicated sleep‐related reduction in connectivity in this region. The consistency of functional connectivity during SWS within and across subjects suggests this may be a promising technique for comparing functional connectivity between mental illness and health.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2011


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