Creating a free account will enable you to subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters, as well as customize your reading experience to show only the categories most relevant to you.
Signing up only take a few minutes, so why not give it a try and see what you've been missing out on.
A new brain imaging study may help explain why people with insomnia often complain that they struggle to concentrate during the day even when objective evidence of a cognitive problem is lacking.
"We found that insomnia subjects did not properly turn on brain regions critical to a working memory task and did not turn off 'mind-wandering' brain regions irrelevant to the task," said lead author Sean P.A. Drummond, PhD, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Sleep Research Society. "Based on these results, it is not surprising that someone with insomnia would feel like they are working harder to do the same job as a healthy sleeper."
The research team led by Drummond and co-principal investigator Matthew Walker, PhD, studied 25 people with primary insomnia and 25 good sleepers. Participants had an average age of 32 years. The study subjects underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan while performing a working memory task.
Results published in the September issue of the journal Sleep show that participants with insomnia did not differ from good sleepers in objective cognitive performance on the working memory task. However, the MRI scans revealed that people with insomnia could not modulate activity in brain regions typically used to perform the task.
As the task got harder, good sleepers used more resources within the working memory network of the brain, especially the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Insomnia subjects, however, were unable to recruit more resources in these brain regions. Furthermore, as the task got harder, participants with insomnia did not dial down the "default mode" regions of the brain that are normally only active when our minds are wandering.
"The data help us understand that people with insomnia not only have trouble sleeping at night, but their brains are not functioning as efficiently during the day," said Drummond. "Some aspects of insomnia are as much of a daytime problem as a nighttime problem. These daytime problems are associated with organic, measurable abnormalities of brain activity, giving us a biological marker for treatment success."
According to the authors, the study is the largest to examine cerebral activation with functional MRI during cognitive performance in people with primary insomnia, relative to well-matched good sleepers. It also is the first to characterize functional MRI differences in working memory in people with primary insomnia.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about 10 to 15 percent of adults have an insomnia disorder with distress or daytime impairment. Most often insomnia is a comorbid disorder occurring with another problem such as depression or chronic pain, or caused by a medication or substance. Fewer people suffering from insomnia are considered to have primary insomnia, which is defined as a difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep in the absence of a coexisting condition.
Study: "Neural correlates of working memory performance in primary insomnia" doi: 10.5665/sleep.2952
Related commentary: "Functional imaging of primary insomnia: new images and fresh opportunities" doi: 10.5665/sleep.2940
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
Visit our Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia category page for the latest news on this subject.
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 4 Sep. 2013. Web.
5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/265566>
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2013, September 4). "Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
If you write about specific medications, operations, or procedures please do not name healthcare professionals by name.
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the our editorial team, please use our feedback form. Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:
Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.
This page was printed from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/265566.php
Visit www.medicalnewstoday.com for medical news and health news headlines posted throughout the day, every day.
© 2004-2013 All rights reserved. MNT (logo) is the registered trade mark of MediLexicon International Limited.