Spindle power is not affected after spontaneous K-complexes during human NREM sleep

PloS One
Andreas KoupparisGeorge K Kostopoulos


K-complexes and sleep spindles often grouped together characterize the second stage of NREM sleep and interest has been raised on a possible interaction of their underlying mechanisms. The reported inhibition of spindles power for about 15 seconds following evoked K-complexes has implications on their role in arousal. Our objective was to assess this inhibition following spontaneous K-complexes. We used time-frequency analysis of spontaneous K-complexes selected from whole-night EEG recordings of normal subjects. Our results show that spindles are most often observed at the positive phase following the peak of a spontaneous KC (70%). At latencies of 1-3 s following the peak of the K-complex, spindles almost disappear. Compared to long-term effects described for evoked KCs, sleep spindle power is not affected by spontaneous KCs for latencies of 5-15 s. Observation of the recurrence rate of sporadic spindles suggests that the reduction of power at 1-3 s most likely reflects a refractory period of spindles lasting for 1-2 s, rather than an effect of KCs. These results suggest that the mechanisms underlying spontaneous KCs do not affect spindle power as in the case of evoked KCs.


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