• pain;
  • sleep;
  • insula;
  • suparsylvian opercular cortex;
  • cingulated;
  • intracerebral EEG;
  • YAP laser


Behavioral reactions to sensory stimuli during sleep are scarce despite preservation of sizeable cortical responses. To further understand such dissociation, we recorded intracortical field potentials to painful laser pulses in humans during waking and all-night sleep. Recordings were obtained from the three cortical structures receiving 95% of the spinothalamic cortical input in primates, namely the parietal operculum, posterior insula, and mid-anterior cingulate cortex. The dynamics of responses during sleep differed among cortical sites. In sleep Stage 2, evoked potential amplitudes were similarly attenuated relative to waking in all three cortical regions. During paradoxical, or rapid eye movements (REM), sleep, opercular and insular potentials remained stable in comparison with Stage 2, whereas the responses from mid-anterior cingulate abated drastically, and decreasing below background noise in half of the subjects. Thus, while the lateral operculo-insular system subserving sensory analysis of somatic stimuli remained active during paradoxical-REM sleep, mid-anterior cingulate processes related to orienting and avoidance behavior were suppressed. Dissociation between sensory and orienting-motor networks might explain why nociceptive stimuli can be either neglected or incorporated into dreams without awakening the subject. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.