Slow waves (SWs) are globally propagating, low-frequency (0.5- to 4-Hz) oscillations that are prominent during sleep and anesthesia. SWs are essential to neural plasticity and memory. However, much remains unknown about the mechanisms coordinating SW propagation at the macroscale. To assess SWs in the context of macroscale networks, we recorded cortical activity in awake and ketamine/xylazine-anesthetized mice using widefield optical imaging with fluorescent calcium indicator GCaMP6f. We demonstrate that unilateral somatosensory stimulation evokes bilateral waves that travel across the cortex with state-dependent trajectories. Under anesthesia, we observe that rhythmic stimuli elicit globally resonant, front-to-back propagating SWs. Finally, photothrombotic lesions of S1 show that somatosensory-evoked global SWs depend on bilateral recruitment of homotopic primary somatosensory cortices. Specifically, unilateral lesions of S1 disrupt somatosensory-evoked global SW initiation from either hemisphere, while spontaneous SWs are largely unchanged. These results show that evoked SWs may be triggered by bilateral activation of specific, homotopically connected cortical networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021252118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021


  • Propagation
  • Slow wave
  • Somatosensory cortex


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