Sleep spindles mediate hippocampal-neocortical coupling during sharp-wave ripples

Hong Viet V. Ngo, Juergen Fell, Bernhard P. Staresina


Sleep is pivotal for the consolidation of memories [1]. According to two-stage accounts, experiences are temporarily stored in the hippocampus and gradually translocated to neocortical sites during non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep [2,3]. Mechanistically, information transfer is thought to rely on interactions between thalamocortical spindles and hippocampal ripples. In particular, spindles may open precisely-timed communication channels, across which reactivation patterns may travel between the hippocampus and cortical target sites when ripples occur. To test this hypothesis, we first derived time-frequency representations (TFRs) in hippocampus (HIPP) and at scalp electrode Cz (neocortex, NC) time-locked to individual hippocampal ripple events. Compared to matched ripple-free intervals, results revealed a concurrent increase in spindle power both in HIPP and NC. As revealed by coherence analysis, hippocampal-neocortical coupling was indeed enhanced in the spindle band around ripples. Finally, we examined the directionality of spindle coupling and observed a strong driving effect from NC to HIPP. Specifically, ~250 ms prior to the HIPP ripple, NC spindles emerge and entrain HIPP spindles. Both regions then remain synchronised until ~500 ms after the ripple. Consistent with recent rodent work, these findings suggest that active consolidation is initiated by neocortex and draws on neocortical-hippocampal-neocortical reactivation loops [4], with a role of sleep spindles in mediating this process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23.07.2019

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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