NREM Sleep

Sleep spindles usually arise from the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurons in the reticular thalamic nucleus. These neurons have intrinsic oscillations with spontaneous slow depolarization on which rhythmical spikes are superimposed and serve as drivers for thalamocortical projection neurons. Dissection of the reticular thalamic region from the thalamocortical region or specific kainic acid lesions of reticular thalamic nuclei eliminates spindles. On scalp recordings, spindles occur maximally over the frontal and vertex areas. Depth electrode recordings in humans show that thalamic spindles are earlier and more frequent than those recorded on the scalp. Spindles occurring in the frontal leads may also originate in the supplementary cortex. y

The defining feature of Stages 3 and 4 sleep is the delta or slow wave. Thalamocortical cells are capable of generating delta waves, but other areas are involved as well, as shown by lesions of the anterior hypothalamus, preoptic region, and basal forebrain, all of which can abolish delta waves.

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