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Keywords:

  • cat;
  • consciousness;
  • cortex;
  • EEG ;
  • synchronisation

Abstract

During cognitive processes there are extensive interactions between various regions of the cerebral cortex. Oscillations in the gamma frequency band (≈40 Hz) of the electroencephalogram (EEG) are involved in the binding of spatially separated but temporally correlated neural events, which results in a unified perceptual experience. The extent of these interactions can be examined by means of a mathematical algorithm called ‘coherence’, which reflects the ‘strength’ of functional interactions between cortical areas. The present study was conducted to analyse EEG coherence in the gamma frequency band of the cat during alert wakefulness (AW), quiet wakefulness (QW), non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Cats were implanted with electrodes in the frontal, parietal and occipital cortices to monitor EEG activity. Coherence values within the gamma frequency (30–100 Hz) from pairs of EEG recordings were analysed. A large increase in coherence occurred between all cortical regions in the 30–45 Hz frequency band during AW compared with the other behavioral states. As the animal transitioned from AW to QW and from QW to NREM sleep, coherence decreased to a moderate level. Remarkably, there was practically no EEG coherence in the entire gamma band spectrum (30–100 Hz) during REM sleep. We conclude that functional interactions between cortical areas are radically different during sleep compared with wakefulness. The virtual absence of gamma frequency coherence during REM sleep may underlie the unique cognitive processing that occurs during dreams, which is principally a REM sleep-related phenomenon.