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Frontiers in Neuroscience





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Simultaneous electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging (EEG-fMRI) studies have revealed brain activations time-locked to spindles. Yet, the functional significance of these spindle-related brain activations is not understood. EEG studies have shown that inter-individual differences in the electrophysiological characteristics of spindles (e.g., density, amplitude, duration) are highly correlated with "Reasoning" abilities (i.e., "fluid intelligence"; problem solving skills, the ability to employ logic, identify complex patterns), but not short-term memory (STM) or verbal abilities. Spindle-dependent reactivation of brain areas recruited during new learning suggests night-to-night variations reflect offline memory processing. However, the functional significance of stable, trait-like inter-individual differences in brain activations recruited during spindle events is unknown. Using EEG-fMRI sleep recordings, we found that a subset of brain activations time-locked to spindles were specifically related to Reasoning abilities but were unrelated to STM or verbal abilities. Thus, suggesting that individuals with higher fluid intelligence have greater activation of brain regions recruited during spontaneous spindle events. This may serve as a first step to further understand the function of sleep spindles and the brain activity which supports the capacity for Reasoning.


© 2019 Fang, Ray, Owen and Fogel. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Originally published as:

Fang Z, Ray LB, Owen AM and Fogel SM (2019) Brain Activation Time-Locked to Sleep Spindles Associated With Human Cognitive Abilities. Front. Neurosci. 13:46. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00046

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.