Travelling spindles create necessary conditions for spike-timing-dependent plasticity in humans

Charles W. Dickey, Anna Sargsyan, Joseph R. Madsen, Emad N. Eskandar, Sydney S. Cash, Eric Halgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Sleep spindles facilitate memory consolidation in the cortex during mammalian non-rapid eye movement sleep. In rodents, phase-locked firing during spindles may facilitate spike-timing-dependent plasticity by grouping pre-then-post-synaptic cell firing within ~25 ms. Currently, microphysiological evidence in humans for conditions conducive for spike-timing-dependent plasticity during spindles is absent. Here, we analyze field potentials and unit firing from middle/upper layers during spindles from 10 × 10 microelectrode arrays at 400 μm pitch in humans. We report strong tonic and phase-locked increases in firing and co-firing within 25 ms during spindles, especially those co-occurring with down-to-upstate transitions. Co-firing, spindle co-occurrence, and spindle coherence are greatest within ~2 mm, and high co-firing of units on different contacts depends on high spindle coherence between those contacts. Spindles propagate at ~0.28 m/s in distinct patterns, with correlated cell co-firing sequences. Spindles hence organize spatiotemporal patterns of neuronal co-firing in ways that may provide pre-conditions for plasticity during non-rapid eye movement sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1027
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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