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Intracerebral dynamics of sleep arousals: a combined scalp-intracranial EEG study

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  • Yingqi Laetitia Wang
  • Tamir Avigdor
  • Sana Hannan
  • Chifaou Abdallah
  • François Dubeau
  • Laure Peter-Derex
  • Birgit Frauscher
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/04/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number16
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date12/03/24
<mark>Original language</mark>English


As an intrinsic component of sleep architecture, sleep arousals represent an intermediate state between sleep and wakefulness and are important for sleep-wake regulation. They are defined in an all-or-none manner, whereas they actually present a wide range of scalp-electroencephalography (EEG) activity patterns. It is poorly understood how these arousals differ in their mechanisms. Stereo-EEG (SEEG) provides the unique opportunity to record intracranial activities in superficial and deep structures in humans. Using combined polysomnography and SEEG, we quantitatively categorized arousals during nonrapid eye movement sleep into slow wave (SW) and non-SW arousals based on whether they co-occurred with a scalp-EEG SW event. We then investigated their intracranial correlates in up to 26 brain regions from 26 patients (12 females). Across both arousal types, intracranial theta, alpha, sigma, and beta activities increased in up to 25 regions ( p  < 0.05; d  = 0.06-0.63), while gamma and high-frequency (HF) activities decreased in up to 18 regions across the five brain lobes ( p  < 0.05; d  = 0.06-0.44). Intracranial delta power widely increased across five lobes during SW arousals ( p  < 0.05 in 22 regions; d  = 0.10-0.39), while it widely decreased during non-SW arousals ( p  < 0.05 in 19 regions; d  = 0.10-0.30). Despite these main patterns, unique activities were observed locally in some regions such as the hippocampus and middle cingulate cortex, indicating spatial heterogeneity of arousal responses. Our results suggest that non-SW arousals correspond to a higher level of brain activation than SW arousals. The decrease in HF activities could potentially explain the absence of awareness and recollection during arousals.