In mammals, sleep is categorized by two main sleep stages, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep that are known to fulfill different functional roles, the most notable being the consolidation of memory. While REM sleep is characterized by brain activity similar to wakefulness, the EEG activity changes drastically with the emergence of K-complexes, sleep spindles and slow oscillations during NREM sleep. These changes are regulated by circadian and ultradian rhythms, which emerge from an intricate interplay between multiple neuronal populations in the brainstem, forebrain and hypothalamus and the resulting varying levels of neuromodulators. Recently, there has been progress in the understanding of those rhythms both from a physiological as well as theoretical perspective. However, how these neuromodulators affect the generation of the different EEG patterns and their temporal dynamics is poorly understood. Here, we build upon previous work on a neural mass model of the sleeping cortex and investigate the effect of those neuromodulators on the dynamics of the cortex and the corresponding transition between wakefulness and the different sleep stages. We show that our simplified model is sufficient to generate the essential features of human EEG over a full day. This approach builds a bridge between sleep regulatory networks and EEG generating neural mass models and provides a valuable tool for model validation.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)