Sleep spindles are phasic bursts of thalamo-cortical activity, visible in the cortex as transient oscillations in the sigma range (usually defined in humans as 12-14 or 9-16 Hz). They have been associated with sleep-dependent memory consolidation and sleep stability in humans and rodents. Occurrence, frequency, amplitude and duration of sleep spindles co-vary with age, sex and psychiatric conditions. Spindle analogue activity in dogs has been qualitatively described, but never quantified and related to function. In the present study we used an adjusted version of a detection method previously validated in children to test whether detections in the dogs show equivalent functional correlates as described in the human literature. We found that the density of EEG transients in the 9-16 Hz range during non-REM sleep relates to memory and is characterized by sexual dimorphism similarly as in humans. The number of transients/minute was larger in the learning condition and for female dogs, and correlated with the increase of performance during recall. It can be concluded that in dogs, automatic detections in the 9-16 Hz range, in particular the slow variant (<13 Hz), are functional analogues of human spindles.
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