In humans, some evidence suggests that there are two different types of spindles during sleep, which differ by their scalp topography and possibly some aspects of their regulation. To test for the existence of two different spindle types, we characterized the activity associated with slow (11-13 Hz) and fast (13-15 Hz) spindles, identified as discrete events during non-rapid eye movement sleep, in non-sleep-deprived human volunteers, using simultaneous electroencephalography and functional MRI. An activation pattern common to both spindle types involved the thalami, paralimbic areas (anterior cingulate and insular cortices), and superior temporal gyri. No thalamic difference was detected in the direct comparison between slow and fast spindles although some thalamic areas were preferentially activated in relation to either spindle type. Beyond the common activation pattern, the increases in cortical activity differed significantly between the two spindle types. Slow spindles were associated with increased activity in the superior frontal gyrus. In contrast, fast spindles recruited a set of cortical regions involved in sensorimotor processing, as well as the mesial frontal cortex and hippocampus. The recruitment of partially segregated cortical networks for slow and fast spindles further supports the existence of two spindle types during human non-rapid eye movement sleep, with potentially different functional significance.
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