The slow ( <1 Hz) rhythm of non-REM sleep: a dialogue between three cardinal oscillators

Nat Neurosci. 2010 Jan;13(1):9-17. doi: 10.1038/nn.2445. Epub 2009 Dec 6.


The slow (<1 Hz) rhythm, the most important electroencephalogram (EEG) signature of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, is generally viewed as originating exclusively from neocortical networks. Here we argue that the full manifestation of this fundamental sleep oscillation in a corticothalamic module requires the dynamic interaction of three cardinal oscillators: one predominantly synaptically based cortical oscillator and two intrinsic, conditional thalamic oscillators. The functional implications of this hypothesis are discussed in relation to other EEG features of NREM sleep, with respect to coordinating activities in local and distant neuronal assemblies and in the context of facilitating cellular and network plasticity during slow-wave sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Anesthetics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Delta Rhythm* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Thalamus / cytology
  • Thalamus / drug effects
  • Thalamus / physiology*


  • Anesthetics