NeuroImage 257 (2022) 119325

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119325

Péter P. Ujmaa,b,c, Orsolya Szalárdya, Dániel Fabób, Loránd Erőssb, Róbert Bódizsa,b

a Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary

b National Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Budapest, Hungary

c Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary



Slow waves are major pacemakers of NREM sleep oscillations. While slow waves themselves are mainly generated by cortical neurons, it is not clear what role thalamic activity plays in the generation of some oscillations grouped by slow waves, and to what extent thalamic activity during slow waves is itself driven by corticothalamic inputs.

To address this question, we simultaneously recorded both scalp EEG and local field potentials from six thalamic nuclei (bilateral anterior, mediodorsal and ventral anterior) in fifteen epileptic patients (age-range: 17–64 years, 7 females) undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation Protocol and assessed the temporal evolution of thalamic activity relative to scalp slow waves using time-frequency analysis. We found that thalamic activity in all six nuclei during scalp slow waves is highly similar to what is observed on the scalp itself. Slow wave downstates are characterized by delta, theta and alpha activity and followed by beta, high sigma and low sigma activity during subsequent upstates. Gamma activity in the thalamus is not significantly grouped by slow waves. Theta and alpha activity appeared first on the scalp, but sigma activity appeared first in the thalamus. These effects were largely independent from the scalp region in which SWs were detected and the precise identity of thalamic nuclei. Our results suggest that while small thalamocortical neuron assemblies may initiate cortical oscillations, especially in the sleep spindle range, the large-scale neuronal activity in the thalamus which is detected by field potentials is principally driven by global cortical activity, and thus it is highly similar to what is observed on the scalp.


Anterior Thalamic Nuclei, Mediodorsal Thalamic Nucleus, Ventral Thalamic Nuclei, thalamogram, NREM sleep, neural oscillations