Specific EEG sleep pattern in the prefrontal cortex in primary insomnia

PLoS One. 2015 Jan 22;10(1):e0116864. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116864. eCollection 2015.


Objective: To assess the specific prefrontal activity in comparison to those in the other main cortical areas in primary insomnia patients and in good sleepers.

Methods: Fourteen primary insomnia patients and 11 good sleepers were included in the analysis. Participants completed one night of polysomnography in the sleep lab. Power spectra were calculated during the NREM (Non-rapid eyes movements) and the REM (Rapid eyes movements) sleep periods at prefrontal, occipital, temporal and central electrode positions.

Results: During the NREM sleep, the power spectra did not differ between groups in the prefrontal cortex; while primary insomnia patients exhibited a higher beta power spectrum and a lower delta power spectrum compared to good sleepers in other areas. During the REM sleep, the beta1 power spectrum was lower in the prefrontal cortex in primary insomnia patients compared to good sleepers; while no significant difference between groups was obtained for the other areas.

Conclusions: The present study shows a specific prefrontal sleep pattern during the whole sleep period. In addition, we suggest that primary insomnia patients displayed a dysfunction in the reactivation of the limbic system during the REM sleep and we give additional arguments in favor of a sleep-protection mechanism displayed by primary insomnia patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Sleep, REM*

Grant support

This work was conducted as part of the Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and medicines (DRUID) research consortium funded by European Union grant TREN-05-FP6TR-S07.61320-518404-DRUID. This report reflects only the authors’ view. The European Community is not liable for any use of the information contained herein. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.