Low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography revealed simultaneously active frontal and parietal sleep spindle sources in the human cortex

P. Anderer, G. Klösch, G. Gruber, E. Trenker, R. D. Pascual-Marqui, J. Zeitlhofer, M. J. Barbanoj, P. Rappelsberger, B. Saletu

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Analyses of scalp-recorded sleep spindles have demonstrated topographically distinct slow and fast spindle waves. In the present paper, the electrical activity in the brain corresponding to different types of sleep spindles was estimated by means of low-resolution electromagnetic tomography. In its new implementation, this method is based on realistic head geometry and solution space is restricted to the cortical gray matter and hippocampus. In multichannel all-night electroencephalographic recordings, 10-20 artifact-free 1.25-s epochs with frontally, parietally and approximately equally distributed spindles were marked visually in 10 normal healthy subjects aged 20-35 years. As a control condition, artifact-free non-spindle epochs 1-3 s before or after the corresponding spindle episodes were marked. Low-resolution electromagnetic tomography demonstrated, independent of the scalp distribution, a distributed spindle source in the prefrontal cortex (Brodmann areas 9 and 10), oscillating with a frequency below 13 Hz, and in the precuneus (Brodmann area 7), oscillating with a frequency above 13 Hz. In extremely rare cases only the prefrontal or the parietal source was active. Brodmann areas 9 and 10 have principal connections to the dorsomedial thalamic nucleus; Brodmann area 7 is connected to the lateroposterior, laterodorsal and rostral intralaminar centrolateral thalamic nuclei. Thus, the localized cortical brain regions are directly connected with adjacent parts of the dorsal thalamus, where sleep spindles are generated. The results demonstrated simultaneously active cortical spindle sources which differed in frequency by approximately 2 Hz and were located in brain regions known to be critically involved in the processing of sensory input, which is in line with the assumed functional role of sleep spindles. © 2001 IBRO.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-592
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2001


  • Electroencephalogram
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Source localization
  • Spectral analysis


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