Colrain, I. M., Crowley, K. E., Nicholas, C. L., Afifi, L., Baker, F. C., Padilla, M., … & Trinder, J. (2010). Sleep evoked delta frequency responses show a linear decline in amplitude across the adult lifespan. Neurobiology of aging, 31(5), 874-883.
Aging is associated with many changes in sleep, with one of the most prominent being a reduction in slow wave sleep. Traditional measures of this phenomenon rely on spontaneous activity and typically confound the incidence and amplitude of delta waves. The measurement of evoked K-complexes during sleep, enable separate assessment of incidence and amplitude taken from the averaged K-complex waveform. The present study describes data from 70 normal healthy men and women aged between 19 and 78 years. K-Complexes were evoked using short auditory tones and recorded from a midline array of scalp sites. Significant reductions with age were seen in the amplitude of the N550 component of the averaged waveform, which represents the amplitude of the K-complex, with linear regression analysis indicating approximately 50% of the variance was due to age. Smaller, yet still significant reductions were seen in the ability to elicit K-complexes. The data highlight the utility of evoked K-complexes as a sensitive marker of brain aging in men and women.