EEG spectral power in phasic and tonic REM sleep: Different patterns in young adults and children

Péter Simor, Ferenc Gombos, Sára Szakadát, Piroska Sándor, R. Bódizs

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Rapid eye movement sleep is composed of phasic and tonic periods, two distinguishable microstates in terms of arousal thresholds and sensory processing. Background electroencephalogram oscillations are also different between periods with (phasic state) and periods without (tonic state) eye movements. In Study 1, previous findings analysing electroencephalogram spectral power in phasic and tonic rapid eye movement sleep were replicated, and analyses extended to the high gamma range (52-90 Hz). In Study 2, phasic and tonic spectral power differences within a group of 4-8-year-old children were examined. Based on the polysomnographic data of 20 young adults, the phasic state yielded increased delta and theta power in anterior sites, as well as generally decreased high alpha and beta power in comparison to the tonic state. Moreover, phasic periods exhibited greater spectral power in the lower and the higher gamma band. Interestingly, children (n = 18) exhibited a different pattern, showing increased activity in the low alpha range during phasic periods. Moreover, during phasic in contrast to tonic rapid eye movement sleep, increased low and high gamma and enhanced low gamma band power emerged in anterior and posterior regions, respectively. The current findings show that spectral activity within the high gamma range substantially contributes to the differences between phasic and tonic rapid eye movement sleep, especially in adults. Moreover, the current data underscore the heterogeneity of rapid eye movement sleep, and point to marked differences between young adults and children regarding phasic/tonic electroencephalogram spectral power. These results suggest that the differentiation between phasic and tonic rapid eye movement periods undergoes maturation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Arousal
  • Development
  • Electroencephalography
  • Oscillation
  • Polysomnography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Medicine(all)

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