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Human cortical excitability increases with time awake


Huber, Reto; Mäki, Hanna; Rosanova, Mario; Casarotto, Silvia; Canali, Paola; Casali, Adenauer G; Tononi, Giulio; Massimini, Marcello (2013). Human cortical excitability increases with time awake. Cerebral Cortex, 23(2):1-7.

Abstract

Prolonged wakefulness is associated not only with obvious changes in the way we feel and perform but also with well-known clinical effects, such as increased susceptibility to seizures, to hallucinations, and relief of depressive symptoms. These clinical effects suggest that prolonged wakefulness may be associated with significant changes in the state of cortical circuits. While recent animal experiments have reported a progressive increase of cortical excitability with time awake, no conclusive evidence could be gathered in humans. In this study, we combine transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor cortical excitability in healthy individuals as a function of time awake. We observed that the excitability of the human frontal cortex, measured as the immediate (0-20 ms) EEG reaction to TMS, progressively increases with time awake, from morning to evening and after one night of total sleep deprivation, and that it decreases after recovery sleep. By continuously monitoring vigilance, we also found that this modulation in cortical responsiveness is tonic and not attributable to transient fluctuations of the level of arousal. The present results provide noninvasive electrophysiological evidence that wakefulness is associated with a steady increase in the excitability of human cortical circuits that is rebalanced during sleep.

Prolonged wakefulness is associated not only with obvious changes in the way we feel and perform but also with well-known clinical effects, such as increased susceptibility to seizures, to hallucinations, and relief of depressive symptoms. These clinical effects suggest that prolonged wakefulness may be associated with significant changes in the state of cortical circuits. While recent animal experiments have reported a progressive increase of cortical excitability with time awake, no conclusive evidence could be gathered in humans. In this study, we combine transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor cortical excitability in healthy individuals as a function of time awake. We observed that the excitability of the human frontal cortex, measured as the immediate (0-20 ms) EEG reaction to TMS, progressively increases with time awake, from morning to evening and after one night of total sleep deprivation, and that it decreases after recovery sleep. By continuously monitoring vigilance, we also found that this modulation in cortical responsiveness is tonic and not attributable to transient fluctuations of the level of arousal. The present results provide noninvasive electrophysiological evidence that wakefulness is associated with a steady increase in the excitability of human cortical circuits that is rebalanced during sleep.

Citations

9 citations in Web of Science®
61 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:22 Mar 2013 12:21
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:25
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhs014
PubMed ID:22314045

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