The space-Time profiles of sleep spindles and their coordination with slow oscillations on the electrode manifold

Paola Malerba, Lauren Whitehurst, Sara C. Mednick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Sleep spindles are important for sleep quality and cognitive functions, with their coordination with slow oscillations (SOs) potentially organizing cross-region reactivation of memory traces. Here, we describe the organization of spindles on the electrode manifold and their relation to SOs. We analyzed the sleep night EEG of 34 subjects and detected spindles and SOs separately at each electrode. We compared spindle properties (frequency, duration, and amplitude) in slow wave sleep (SWS) and Stage 2 sleep (S2); and in spindles that coordinate with SOs or are uncoupled. We identified different topographical spindle types using clustering analysis that grouped together spindles co-detected across electrodes within a short delay (±300 ms). We then analyzed the properties of spindles of each type, and coordination to SOs. We found that SWS spindles are shorter than S2 spindles, and spindles at frontal electrodes have higher frequencies in S2 compared to SWS. Furthermore, S2 spindles closely following an SO (about 10% of all spindles) show faster frequency, shorter duration, and larger amplitude than uncoupled ones. Clustering identified Global, Local, Posterior, Frontal-Right and Left spindle types. At centro-parietal locations, Posterior spindles show faster frequencies compared to other types. Furthermore, the infrequent SO-spindle complexes are preferentially recruiting Global SO waves coupled with fast Posterior spindles. Our results suggest a non-uniform participation of spindles to complexes, especially evident in S2. This suggests the possibility that different mechanisms could initiate an SO-spindle complex compared to SOs and spindles separately. This has implications for understanding the role of SOs-spindle complexes in memory reactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsac132
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Sleep Research Society. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Sleep Research Society.


  • brain oscillations
  • global SOs
  • memory reactivation
  • posterior spindles
  • sleep EEG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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