A Thalamocortical Neural Mass Model of the EEG during NREM Sleep and Its Response to Auditory Stimulation

PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Sep 1;12(9):e1005022. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005022. eCollection 2016 Sep.


Few models exist that accurately reproduce the complex rhythms of the thalamocortical system that are apparent in measured scalp EEG and at the same time, are suitable for large-scale simulations of brain activity. Here, we present a neural mass model of the thalamocortical system during natural non-REM sleep, which is able to generate fast sleep spindles (12-15 Hz), slow oscillations (<1 Hz) and K-complexes, as well as their distinct temporal relations, and response to auditory stimuli. We show that with the inclusion of detailed calcium currents, the thalamic neural mass model is able to generate different firing modes, and validate the model with EEG-data from a recent sleep study in humans, where closed-loop auditory stimulation was applied. The model output relates directly to the EEG, which makes it a useful basis to develop new stimulation protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology*

Grant support

This work was supported by the grants "Plasticity and Sleep" (SFB 654) and the Graduate School "Computing in Medicine and Life Sciences" (GS-635) from the German Research Foundation and US-German Collaboration in Neuroscience (grant 01GQ1008) from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Union Human Brain Project SP3 - Cognitive Architectures. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.