Small-world network organization during sleep

The functional connectivity of different EEG bands moves towards small-world network organization during sleep.
Ferri R, Rundo F, Bruni O, Terzano MG, Stam CJ.
Clin Neurophysiol. 2008 Sep;119(9):2026-36.

Background: To analyze the functional connectivity patterns of the different EEG
bands during wakefulness and sleep (different sleep stages and cyclic alternating
pattern (CAP) conditions), using concepts derived from Graph Theory.

Methods: They evaluated spatial patterns of EEG band synchronization between all possible pairs of electrodes (19) placed over the scalp of 10 sleeping healthy young normal subjects using two graph theoretical measures: the clustering coefficient (Cp) and the characteristic path length (Lp). The measures were obtained during wakefulness and the different sleep stages/CAP conditions from the real EEG connectivity networks and randomized control (surrogate) networks (Cp-s and Lp-s).

Results: They found the values of Cp and Lp compatible with a small-world network organization in all sleep stages and for all EEG bands. All bands below 15Hz showed an increase of these features during sleep (and during CAP-A phases in particular), compared to wakefulness.

Conclusion: The results of this study seem to confirm the initial hypothesis that during sleep there exists a clear trend for the functional connectivity of the EEG to move forward to an organization more similar to that of a small-world network, at least for the frequency bands lower than 15Hz. Sleep network "reconfiguration" might be one of the key mechanisms for the understanding of the "global" and "local" neural plasticity taking place during sleep.

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