Analysis of circadian rhythm components in EEG/EMG data of aged mice

Front Neurosci. 2023 May 12:17:1173537. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2023.1173537. eCollection 2023.


Aging disrupts circadian clocks, as evidenced by a reduction in the amplitude of circadian rhythms. Because the circadian clock strongly influences sleep-wake behavior in mammals, age-related alterations in sleep-wake patterns may be attributable, at least partly, to functional changes in the circadian clock. However, the effect of aging on the circadian characteristics of sleep architecture has not been well assessed, as circadian behaviors are usually evaluated through long-term behavioral recording with wheel-running or infrared sensors. In this study, we examined age-related changes in circadian sleep-wake behavior using circadian components extracted from electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) data. EEG and EMG were recorded from 12 to 17-week-old and 78 to 83-week-old mice for 3 days under light/dark and constant dark conditions. We analyzed time-dependent changes in the duration of sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep significantly increased during the night phase in old mice, whereas no significant change was observed during the light phase. The circadian components were then extracted from the EEG data for each sleep-wake stage, revealing that the circadian rhythm in the power of delta waves during NREM sleep was attenuated and delayed in old mice. Furthermore, we used machine learning to evaluate the phase of the circadian rhythm, with EEG data serving as the input and the phase of the sleep-wake rhythm (environmental time) as the output. The results indicated that the output time for the old mice data tended to be delayed, specifically at night. These results indicate that the aging process significantly impacts the circadian rhythm in the EEG power spectrum despite the circadian rhythm in the amounts of sleep and wake attenuated but still remaining in old mice. Moreover, EEG/EMG analysis is useful not only for evaluating sleep-wake stages but also for circadian rhythms in the brain.

Keywords: EEG; aging; circadian rhythms; machine learning; sleep.