The human K-complex represents an isolated cortical down-state

Sydney S. Cash, Eric Halgren, Nima Dehghani, Andrea O. Rossetti, Thomas Thesen, Chun Mao Wang, Orrin Devinsky, Ruben Kuzniecky, Werner Doyle, Joseph R. Madsen, Edward Bromfield, Loránd Eross, Péter Halász, George Karmos, Richárd Csercsa, Lucia Wittner, István Ulbert

Research output: Article

214 Citations (Scopus)


The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a mainstay of clinical neurology and is tightly correlated with brain function, but the specific currents generating human EEG elements remain poorly specified because of a lack of microphysiological recordings. The largest event in healthy human EEGs is the K-complex (KC), which occurs in slow-wave sleep. Here, we show that KCs are generated in widespread cortical areas by outward dendritic currents in the middle and upper cortical layers, accompanied by decreased broadband EEG power and decreased neuronal firing, which demonstrate a steep decline in network activity. Thus, KCs are isolated "down-states," a fundamental cortico-thalamic processing mode already characterized in animals. This correspondence is compatible with proposed contributions of the KC to sleep preservation and memory consolidation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1087
Number of pages4
Issue number5930
Publication statusPublished - máj. 22 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Cash, S. S., Halgren, E., Dehghani, N., Rossetti, A. O., Thesen, T., Wang, C. M., Devinsky, O., Kuzniecky, R., Doyle, W., Madsen, J. R., Bromfield, E., Eross, L., Halász, P., Karmos, G., Csercsa, R., Wittner, L., & Ulbert, I. (2009). The human K-complex represents an isolated cortical down-state. Science, 324(5930), 1084-1087.