Sleep spindles mediate hippocampal-neocortical coupling during long-duration ripples

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  • University of Bonn


Sleep is pivotal for memory consolidation. According to two-stage accounts, memory traces are gradually translocated from hippocampus to neocortex during non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. Mechanistically, this information transfer is thought to rely on interactions between thalamocortical spindles and hippocampal ripples. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed intracranial and scalp Electroencephalography sleep recordings from pre-surgical epilepsy patients. We first observed a concurrent spindle power increase in hippocampus (HIPP) and neocortex (NC) time-locked to individual hippocampal ripple events. Coherence analysis confirmed elevated levels of hippocampal-neocortical spindle coupling around ripples, with directionality analyses indicating an influence from NC to HIPP. Importantly, these hippocampal-neocortical dynamics were particularly pronounced during long-duration compared to short-duration ripples. Together, our findings reveal a potential mechanism underlying active consolidation, comprising a neocortical-hippocampal-neocortical reactivation loop initiated by the neocortex. This hippocampal-cortical dialogue is mediated by sleep spindles and is enhanced during long-duration hippocampal ripples.

Bibliographic note

© 2020, Ngo et al.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57011
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2020


  • hippocampus, human, neuroscience, ripples, sleep, spindles