Topographical frequency dynamics within EEG and MEG sleep spindles

Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Feb;122(2):229-35. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Jul 15.


Objective: Spindles are rhythmic bursts of 10-16 Hz activity, lasting ∼1 s, occur during normal stage 2 sleep. Spindles are slower in frontal EEG and possibly MEG. The posterior-fast EEG pattern may predominate early in the spindle, and the anterior-slow pattern late. We aimed to determine the proportion of spindles showing this spatio-spectro-temporal interaction for EEG, and whether it occurs in MEG.

Methods: We recorded high density EEG and MEG from seven healthy subjects during normal stage 2 sleep. High vs. low frequency (12 vs. 14 Hz) power was measured early vs. late (25th-45th vs. 55th-75th duration percentile) in 183 spindle discharges.

Results: The predicted spatio-spectro-temporal interaction was shown by 48% of EEG and 34% of MEG spindles (chance=25%). Topographically, high frequency EEG power was greatest at midline central contacts, and low frequency power at midline frontal. This frequency-specific topography was fixed over the course of the spindle.

Conclusions: An evolution from posterior-fast to anterior-slow generators commonly occurs during spindles, and this is visible with EEG and to a lesser extent, MEG.

Significance: The spatio-spectral-temporal evolution of spindles may reflect their possible involvement in coordinating cortical activity during consolidation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods*
  • Male
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult