Excitability and recruitment patterns of spinal motoneurons in human sleep as assessed by F-wave recordings

Salih, Farid; Steinheimer, Saskia; Grosse, Pascal (2011). Excitability and recruitment patterns of spinal motoneurons in human sleep as assessed by F-wave recordings. Experimental brain research, 213(1), pp. 1-8. Berlin: Springer 10.1007/s00221-011-2763-3

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This study examines the excitability and recruitment of spinal motoneurons in human sleep. The main objective was to assess whether supraspinal inhibition affects the different subpopulations of the compound spinal motoneuron pool in the same way or rather in a selective fashion in the various sleep stages. To this end, we studied F-conduction velocities (FCV) and F-tacheodispersion alongside F-amplitudes and F-persistence in 22 healthy subjects in sleep stages N2, N3 (slow-wave sleep), REM and in wakefulness. Stimuli were delivered on the ulnar nerve, and F-waves were recorded from the first dorsal interosseus muscle. Repeated sets of stimuli were stored to obtain at least 15 F-waves for each state of vigilance. F-tacheodispersion was calculated based on FCVs using the modified Kimura formula. Confirming the only previous study, excitability of spinal motoneurons was generally decreased in all sleep stages compared with wakefulness as indicated by significantly reduced F-persistence and F-amplitudes. More importantly, F-tacheodispersion showed a narrowed range of FCV in all sleep stages, most prominently in REM. In non-REM, this narrowed range was associated with a shift towards significantly decreased maximal FCV and mean FCV as well as with a trend towards lower minimal FCV. In REM, the lowering of mean FCV was even more pronounced, but contrary to non-REM sleep without a shift of minimal and maximal FCV. Variations in F-tacheodispersion between sleep stages suggest that different supraspinal inhibitory neuronal circuits acting on the spinal motoneuron pool may contribute to muscle hypotonia in human non-REM sleep and to atonia in REM sleep.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Steinheimer, Saskia Marie








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:14

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 19:17

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/3386 (FactScience: 207063)

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