Infra-slow fluctuations in cortical potentials and respiration drive fast cortical EEG rhythms in sleeping and waking states

Tommi Väyrynen*, Heta Helakari, Vesa Korhonen, Johanna Tuunanen, Niko Huotari, Johanna Piispala, Mika Kallio, Lauri Raitamaa, Janne Kananen, Matti Järvelä, J. Matias Palva, Vesa Kiviniemi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Objective: Infra-slow fluctuations (ISF, 0.008–0.1 Hz) characterize hemodynamic and electric potential signals of human brain. ISFs correlate with the amplitude dynamics of fast (>1 Hz) neuronal oscillations, and may arise from permeability fluctuations of the blood–brain barrier (BBB). It is unclear if physiological rhythms like respiration drive or track fast cortical oscillations, and the role of sleep in this coupling is unknown. Methods: We used high-density full-band electroencephalography (EEG) in healthy human volunteers (N = 21) to measure concurrently the ISFs, respiratory pulsations, and fast neuronal oscillations during periods of wakefulness and sleep, and to assess the strength and direction of their phase-amplitude coupling. Results: The phases of ISFs and respiration were both coupled with the amplitude of fast neuronal oscillations, with stronger ISF coupling being evident during sleep. Phases of ISF and respiration drove the amplitude dynamics of fast oscillations in sleeping and waking states, with different contributions. Conclusions: ISFs in slow cortical potentials and respiration together significantly determine the dynamics of fast cortical oscillations. Significance: We propose that these slow physiological phases play a significant role in coordinating cortical excitability, which is a fundamental aspect of brain function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Coupling
  • EEG
  • Modulation
  • Respiration
  • Sleep
  • Slow oscillation


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