The functional connectivity of different EEG bands moves towards small-world network organization during sleep

Raffaele Ferri, Francesco Rundo, Oliviero Bruni, Mario G. Terzano, Cornelis J. Stam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To analyze the functional connectivity patterns of the different EEG bands during wakefulness and sleep (different sleep stages and cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) conditions), using concepts derived from Graph Theory. Methods: We evaluated spatial patterns of EEG band synchronization between all possible pairs of electrodes (19) placed over the scalp of 10 sleeping healthy young normal subjects using two graph theoretical measures: the clustering coefficient (Cp) and the characteristic path length (Lp). The measures were obtained during wakefulness and the different sleep stages/CAP conditions from the real EEG connectivity networks and randomized control (surrogate) networks (Cp-s and Lp-s). Results: We found values of Cp and Lp compatible with a small-world network organization in all sleep stages and for all EEG bands. All bands below 15 Hz showed an increase of these features during sleep (and during CAP-A phases in particular), compared to wakefulness. Conclusions: The results of this study seem to confirm our initial hypothesis that during sleep there exists a clear trend for the functional connectivity of the EEG to move forward to an organization more similar to that of a small-world network, at least for the frequency bands lower than 15 Hz. Significance: Sleep network "reconfiguration" might be one of the key mechanisms for the understanding of the "global" and "local" neural plasticity taking place during sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2026-2036
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


  • Cyclic alternating pattern
  • EEG bands
  • Functional connectivity
  • Graph analysis
  • Human
  • Sleep
  • Small-world networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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