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Classification of vigilance regulation

​Research staff

Dr. S. Olbrich, Dr. C. Sander, K. Wilk, M. Trenner, Ch. Bader, F. Schmidt, PD Dr. P. Schönknecht, Prof. Dr. U. Hegerl


Psychiatric patients differ from each other regarding their type of vigilance regulation. Using the electroencephalogram (EEG) distinct EEG-vigilance states can be differentiated during the transition from active wakefulness to light sleep. The spontaneous transition between these states can be observed under resting conditions (with eyes closed). Here, remarkable differences depending on the diagnosis and illness conditions are found: Within the scope of depressive episodes often a stabile A-state without a physiological decrease of vigilance within the first 10 minutes of the measurement can be observed (rigid type of vigilance regulation). In contrast, patients with manic syndromes often show a rapid decrease of vigilance, as indicated by a transition to B-states after a few minutes time and the occurrence of sleep spindles (labile type of vigilance regulation). The neurobiological mechanisms underlying this disturbance of vigilance regulation are so far unclear.


This project will examine the value of a misbalanced EEG-vigilance regulation as an indicator for different psychiatric diseases.

To achieve this, a differentiation between the physiological interindividual fluctuations of EEG-vigilance and pathological changes is fundamental. Therefore, beyond the routine EEGs derived from patients of our clinic, we intend to investigate a representative sample of healthy control subjects regarding their EEG-vigilance regulation and to build a data base accordingly.

To enable later scientific analysis, additional information on psychopathology, personality and sleeping behaviour will be collected in a standardized fashion, both, from patients and healthy controls.


In the present project the following hypotheses will be tested:

  1. In patients with manic episodes the vigilance regulation is labile as compared to healthy controls. This lability is characterized by an above-average fast decrease into B-states of EEG-vigilance.
  2. In patients with depressive episodes the vigilance regulation is rigid as compared to healthy controls. This rigidity is characterized by an above-average long persistence in A-states of EEG-vigilance.
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