Philip Low
Salk Institute

A New Way To Look At Sleep

Thursday 15th of June 2006 at 12:00pm
5101 Tolman

I will start with electrophysiological recordings from zebra finches, a species devoid of a cortex, exhibiting mammalian -and even cortical- sleep patterns. Our results falsify the hypothesis that the patterns of sleep common in mammals require a neocortex. Rather, we hypothesize that shared, ancestral characteristics of sleep in amniotes evolved under selective pressures common to oscine passerines (songbirds) and mammals, resulting in convergent characteristics of sleep. Then I will introduce SPEARS, an automated sleep EEG analysis system. This algorithm analyzes brain waves (EEGs) and unmasks statistically significant signals hidden in the frequency domain. These signals are then automatically used to unambiguously identify sleep and waking stages from a single channel of data. The technique therefore obviates the need for recordings based on multiple channels of data and provides a rapid, inexpensive and quantitatively rigorous alternative to manual analysis. I will thus show that contrary to current scientific belief, all human sleep and waking states are separable on a single channel of EEG and that SWS and REM sleep are not "stable, low frequency dominated" and "awake-like, desynchronized" states, respectively. In addition, I will show preliminary analysis revealing the presence of a novel human sleep state. I will conclude the talk by discussing several new ideas about sleep states and their roles.

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