Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth

Scott M. McKinney, Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, Orfeu M. Buxton, Jo M. Solet, Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The neural correlates of the wake-sleep continuum remain incompletely understood, limiting the development of adaptive drug delivery systems for promoting sleep maintenance. The most useful measure for resolving early positions along this continuum is the alpha oscillation, an 8-13 Hz electroencephalographic rhythm prominent over posterior scalp locations. The brain activation signature of wakefulness, alpha expression discloses immediate levels of alertness and dissipates in concert with fading awareness as sleep begins. This brain activity pattern, however, is largely ignored once sleep begins. Here we show that the intensity of spectral power in the alpha band actually continues to disclose instantaneous responsiveness to noise-a measure of sleep depth-throughout a night of sleep. By systematically challenging sleep with realistic and varied acoustic disruption, we found that sleepers exhibited markedly greater sensitivity to sounds during moments of elevated alpha expression. This result demonstrates that alpha power is not a binary marker of the transition between sleep and wakefulness, but carries rich information about immediate sleep stability. Further, it shows that an empirical and ecologically relevant form of sleep depth is revealed in real-time by EEG spectral content in the alpha band, a measure that affords prediction on the order of minutes. This signal, which transcends the boundaries of classical sleep stages, could potentially be used for real-time feedback to novel, adaptive drug delivery systems for inducing sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17351
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 10 2011

Fingerprint

sleep
Brain
Sleep
brain
drug delivery systems
Wakefulness
Drug Delivery Systems
Sleep Stages
Scalp
Acoustics
Electroencephalography
Noise
oscillation
acoustics
Maintenance
Chemical activation
Acoustic waves
Feedback

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

McKinney, S. M., Dang-Vu, T. T., Buxton, O. M., Solet, J. M., & Ellenbogen, J. M. (2011). Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth. PloS one, 6(3), [e17351]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017351
McKinney, Scott M. ; Dang-Vu, Thien Thanh ; Buxton, Orfeu M. ; Solet, Jo M. ; Ellenbogen, Jeffrey M. / Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth. In: PloS one. 2011 ; Vol. 6, No. 3.
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McKinney, SM, Dang-Vu, TT, Buxton, OM, Solet, JM & Ellenbogen, JM 2011, 'Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth', PloS one, vol. 6, no. 3, e17351. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017351

Covert waking brain activity reveals instantaneous sleep depth. / McKinney, Scott M.; Dang-Vu, Thien Thanh; Buxton, Orfeu M.; Solet, Jo M.; Ellenbogen, Jeffrey M.

In: PloS one, Vol. 6, No. 3, e17351, 10.03.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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