Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems 2006, ECCS'06, ECCS06–36 (2006)

Sleep microstructure analysis using Recurrence Plots: evidence for a subcortical oscillator?

L. Priano, F. Saccomandi, A. Mauro, C. Guiot

Recurrence Plots (RPs) is a graphical tool for assessing time series of dynamical systems by means of colour maps, first described in 1987(1). This method visually displays the temporal windows in which the phase space trajectory visits roughly the same area in the phase space, so disclosing hidden periodicities or oscillations in the time evolution of dynamical systems. Since 'hot' and 'cold' colours are associated to 'near' and 'far' vectors respectively, random and deterministic signals are visually discernable by uniform or structured RPs regions. Several applications of RP to physiological signals, including electroencephalogram (EEG) signals during NREM and REM sleep stages (sleep macrostructure), have been proposed and have been related to other non-linear analysis parameters such as correlation dimension, fractal dimension and entropy (2,3). Up to now, however, a RPs analysis of sleep microstructure has not been performed yet. This include peculiar transient EEG phenomena usually lasting from 0.5 seconds to a few seconds (mainly K complexes (4) and bursts of delta waves, excluding arousals) ad exhibiting a pseudoperiodic pattern during sleep deepening. Our preliminary study analyzes the sleep microstructure in 5 young healthy subjects. Results show that RP method could discriminate: a) attractor-driven oscillation patterns of the transient EEG phenomena during transitions towards deep sleep, visually represented by slow wave sleep (SWS) and expression of EEG synchronization; b) the loss of this attractor-driven oscillations (chaotic oscillations) several seconds before the occurrence of REM phases. Data are consistent with the hypothesis that a subcortical oscillator is activated throughout the deepening of NREM sleep but is suddenly damped before the occurrence of REM phases.


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