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Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 6157 (2017)

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DOI:  10.1038/s41598-017-06280-2

Ferenc Gombos1, Róbert Bódizs1,2 & Ilona Kovács1

1Department of General Psychology, Institute of Psychology, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, 1088, Budapest, Hungary

2Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University, 1089, Budapest, Hungary


Williams syndrome (7q11.23 microdeletion) is characterized by specific alterations in neurocognitive architecture and functioning, as well as disordered sleep. Here we analyze the region, sleep state and frequency-specific EEG synchronization of whole night sleep recordings of 21 Williams syndrome and 21 typically developing age- and gender-matched subjects by calculating weighted phase lag indexes. We found broadband increases in inter- and intrahemispheric neural connectivity for both NREM and REM sleep EEG of Williams syndrome subjects. These effects consisted of increased theta, high sigma, and beta/low gamma synchronization, whereas alpha synchronization was characterized by a peculiar Williams syndrome-specific decrease during NREM states (intra- and interhemispheric centro-temporal) and REM phases of sleep (occipital intra-area synchronization). We also found a decrease in short range, occipital connectivity of NREM sleep EEG theta activity. The striking increased overall synchronization of sleep EEG in Williams syndrome subjects is consistent with the recently reported increase in synaptic and dendritic density in stem-cell based Williams syndrome models, whereas decreased alpha and occipital connectivity might reflect and underpin the altered microarchitecture of primary visual cortex and disordered visuospatial functioning of Williams syndrome subjects.

Keywords: Developmental disorders; Electroencephalography – EEG; Neural circuits; Sleep

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