Electrophysiological traces of visuomotor learning and their renormalization after sleep

E. C. Landsness, F. Ferrarelli, S. Sarasso, M. R. Goldstein, B. A. Riedner, C. Cirelli, B. Perfetti, C. Moisello, M. F. Ghilardi, G. Tononi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: Adapting movements to a visual rotation involves the activation of right posterior parietal areas. Further performance improvement requires an increase of slow wave activity in subsequent sleep in the same areas. Here we ascertained whether a post-learning trace is present in wake EEG and whether such a trace is influenced by sleep slow waves. Methods: In two separate sessions, we recorded high-density EEG in 17 healthy subjects before and after a visuomotor rotation task, which was performed both before and after sleep. High-density EEG was recorded also during sleep. One session aimed to suppress sleep slow waves, while the other session served as a control. Results: After learning, we found a trace in the eyes-open wake EEG as a local, parietal decrease in alpha power. After the control night, this trace returned to baseline levels, but it failed to do so after slow wave deprivation. The overnight change of the trace correlated with the dissipation of low frequency (<8. Hz) NREM sleep activity only in the control session. Conclusions: Visuomotor learning leaves a trace in the wake EEG alpha power that appears to be renormalized by sleep slow waves. Significance: These findings link visuomotor learning to regional changes in wake EEG and sleep homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2418-2425
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Alpha
  • Sleep homeostasis
  • Slow wave
  • Slow wave deprivation
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Visual motor learning


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