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An infant sleep electroencephalographic marker of thalamocortical connectivity predicts behavioral outcome in late infancy


Jaramillo, Valeria; Schoch, Sarah F; Markovic, Andjela; Kohler, Malcolm; Huber, Reto; Lustenberger, Caroline; Kurth, Salome (2023). An infant sleep electroencephalographic marker of thalamocortical connectivity predicts behavioral outcome in late infancy. NeuroImage, 269:119924.

Abstract

Infancy represents a critical period during which thalamocortical brain connections develop and mature. Deviations in the maturation of thalamocortical connectivity are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. There is a lack of early biomarkers to detect and localize neuromaturational deviations, which can be overcome with mapping through high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) assessed in sleep. Specifically, slow waves and spindles in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are generated by the thalamocortical system, and their characteristics, slow wave slope and spindle density, are closely related to neuroplasticity and learning. Spindles are often subdivided into slow (11.0-13.0 Hz) and fast (13.5-16.0 Hz) frequencies, for which not only different functions have been proposed, but for which also distinctive developmental trajectories have been reported across the first years of life. Recent studies further suggest that information processing during sleep underlying sleep-dependent learning is promoted by the temporal coupling of slow waves and spindles, yet slow wave-spindle coupling remains unexplored in infancy. Thus, we evaluated three potential biomarkers: 1) slow wave slope, 2) spindle density, and 3) the temporal coupling of slow waves with spindles. We use hdEEG to first examine the occurrence and spatial distribution of these three EEG features in healthy infants and second to evaluate a predictive relationship with later behavioral outcomes. We report four key findings: First, infants' EEG features appear locally: slow wave slope is maximal in occipital and frontal areas, whereas slow and fast spindle density is most pronounced frontocentrally. Second, slow waves and spindles are temporally coupled in infancy, with maximal coupling strength in the occipital areas of the brain. Third, slow wave slope, fast spindle density, and slow wave-spindle coupling are not associated with concurrent behavioral status (6 months). Fourth, fast spindle density in central and frontocentral regions at age 6 months predicts overall developmental status at age 12 months, and motor skills at age 12 and 24 months. Neither slow wave slope nor slow wave-spindle coupling predict later behavioral development. We further identified spindle frequency as a determinant of slow and fast spindle density, which accordingly, also predicts motor skills at 24 months. Our results propose fast spindle density, or alternatively spindle frequency, as early EEG biomarker for identifying thalamocortical maturation, which can potentially be used for early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. These findings are in support of a role of sleep spindles in sensorimotor microcircuitry development. A crucial next step will be to evaluate whether early therapeutic interventions may be effective to reverse deviations in identified individuals at risk.

Abstract

Infancy represents a critical period during which thalamocortical brain connections develop and mature. Deviations in the maturation of thalamocortical connectivity are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. There is a lack of early biomarkers to detect and localize neuromaturational deviations, which can be overcome with mapping through high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) assessed in sleep. Specifically, slow waves and spindles in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are generated by the thalamocortical system, and their characteristics, slow wave slope and spindle density, are closely related to neuroplasticity and learning. Spindles are often subdivided into slow (11.0-13.0 Hz) and fast (13.5-16.0 Hz) frequencies, for which not only different functions have been proposed, but for which also distinctive developmental trajectories have been reported across the first years of life. Recent studies further suggest that information processing during sleep underlying sleep-dependent learning is promoted by the temporal coupling of slow waves and spindles, yet slow wave-spindle coupling remains unexplored in infancy. Thus, we evaluated three potential biomarkers: 1) slow wave slope, 2) spindle density, and 3) the temporal coupling of slow waves with spindles. We use hdEEG to first examine the occurrence and spatial distribution of these three EEG features in healthy infants and second to evaluate a predictive relationship with later behavioral outcomes. We report four key findings: First, infants' EEG features appear locally: slow wave slope is maximal in occipital and frontal areas, whereas slow and fast spindle density is most pronounced frontocentrally. Second, slow waves and spindles are temporally coupled in infancy, with maximal coupling strength in the occipital areas of the brain. Third, slow wave slope, fast spindle density, and slow wave-spindle coupling are not associated with concurrent behavioral status (6 months). Fourth, fast spindle density in central and frontocentral regions at age 6 months predicts overall developmental status at age 12 months, and motor skills at age 12 and 24 months. Neither slow wave slope nor slow wave-spindle coupling predict later behavioral development. We further identified spindle frequency as a determinant of slow and fast spindle density, which accordingly, also predicts motor skills at 24 months. Our results propose fast spindle density, or alternatively spindle frequency, as early EEG biomarker for identifying thalamocortical maturation, which can potentially be used for early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders in infants. These findings are in support of a role of sleep spindles in sensorimotor microcircuitry development. A crucial next step will be to evaluate whether early therapeutic interventions may be effective to reverse deviations in identified individuals at risk.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Pneumology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Neurology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cognitive Neuroscience, Neurology
Language:English
Date:1 April 2023
Deposited On:01 Dec 2023 09:41
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:41
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2023.119924
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/216438/
PubMed ID:36739104
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversität Zürich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderOlga Mayenfisch Stiftung
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)