Auditory evoked potential (AEP) components correspond to sequential activation of brain structures within the auditory pathway and reveal neural activity during sensory processing. To investigate state-dependent modulation of stimulus intensity response profiles within different brain structures, we assessed AEP components across both stimulus intensity and state.
We implanted adult female Sprague-Dawley rats (N = 6) with electrodes to measure EEG, EKG, and EMG. Intermittent auditory stimuli (6-12 s) varying from 50 to 75 dBa were delivered over a 24-h period. Data were parsed into 2-s epochs and scored for wake/sleep state.
All AEP components increased in amplitude with increased stimulus intensity during wake. During quiet sleep, however, only the early latency response (ELR) showed this relationship, while the middle latency response (MLR) increased at the highest 75 dBa intensity, and the late latency response (LLR) showed no significant change across the stimulus intensities tested. During rapid eye movement sleep (REM), both ELR and LLR increased, similar to wake, but MLR was severely attenuated.
Stimulation intensity and the corresponding AEP response profile were dependent on both brain structure and sleep state. Lower brain structures maintained stimulus intensity and neural response relationships during sleep. This relationship was not observed in the cortex, implying state-dependent modification of stimulus intensity coding. Since AEP amplitude is not modulated by stimulus intensity during sleep, differences between paired 75/50 dBa stimuli could be used to determine state better than individual intensities.
Phillips DJ; Schei JL; Meighan PC; Rector DM. State-dependent changes in cortical gain control as measured by auditory evoked responses to varying intensity stimuli. SLEEP 2011;34(11):1527-1537.