Massimini et al. show that the deep sleep important in brain restoration and memory consolidation (associated with EEG slow-wave activity of 0.5–4.5 Hz) can be triggered and deepened by appropriate transcranial magnetic stimulation at less than 1 Hz. (PDF here.) How long will it be before we are being offered electromagnetic "sleep caps" to improve our memory and brain restoration during sleep?
Here is their abstract:
During much of sleep, cortical neurons undergo near-synchronous slow oscillation cycles in membrane potential, which give rise to the largest spontaneous waves observed in the normal electroencephalogram (EEG). Slow oscillations underlie characteristic features of the sleep EEG, such as slow waves and spindles. Here we show that, in sleeping subjects, slow waves and spindles can be triggered noninvasively and reliably by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). With appropriate stimulation parameters, each TMS pulse at less than 1 Hz evokes an individual, high-amplitude slow wave that originates under the coil and spreads over the cortex. TMS triggering of slow waves reveals intrinsic bistability in thalamocortical networks during non-rapid eye movement sleep. Moreover, evoked slow waves lead to a deepening of sleep and to an increase in EEG slow-wave activity (0.5–4.5 Hz), which is thought to play a role in brain restoration and memory consolidation.