Slow-wave sleep and waking cognitive performance among older adults with and without insomnia complaints

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, United States
Physiology & Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.03). 05/1999; 66(3):485-92. DOI: 10.1016/S0031-9384(98)00316-3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous research has shown that healthy young adults with relatively fast reaction times on daytime testing have significantly more nocturnal slow-wave sleep than do age-matched subjects with relatively slow reaction times on such testing. The current study was conducted to examine the relationship between slow-wave sleep and cognitive performance among older adults with and without insomnia complaints. A sample of 32 noncomplaining older (age > or = 60 years) normal sleepers and a like-aged sample of 32 insomniacs, recruited to participate in a larger study, served as subjects. All subjects underwent nocturnal sleep monitoring immediately prior to undergoing a battery of daytime tests that measured simple reaction time, vigilance/signal detection, and complex reaction time. Results from the normal sleepers showed no relationship between daytime cognitive performance measures and a variety of computer-derived nocturnal slow-wave sleep measures. In contrast, insomniac subjects with relatively slow reaction times showed relative deficits in a spectral analytically derived measure of slow-wave power in the 2 to 4 Hz bandwidth. These results suggest that relative performance deficits among some older insomniacs may be related to specific slow-wave sleep deficiencies. However, among older normal sleepers, intersubject differences in performance appear unrelated to slow-wave sleep measures. Additional research is needed to further explore the possible restorative role slow-wave sleep may serve for cognitive functions other than those examined herein.

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    • "Psychomotor deficits related to insomnia and old age point to underlying brain processes, which may relate to the functioning of the prefrontal cortex. Previously, insomnia in older adults has been linked with performance deficits related to the prefrontal cortex, and namely, impairment in attention and psychomotor vigilance [9] [31]. The prefrontal cortex has been highlighted as a brain region especially vulnerable to both sleep deprivation and aging [32] [33]. "
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    • "In an earlier study, Crenshaw and Edinger [148] investigated whether slow-wave sleep was related to performance on " simple reaction time " and vigilance tasks among older adults with normal sleep and those with insomnia. Older adults who were normal sleepers showed no relationship between cognitive performance and slow-wave sleep. "
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    Neural Plasticity 08/2012; 2012:624795. DOI:10.1155/2012/624795 · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    • "Under less controlled conditions, Altena et al. (2008b) showed that – compared to elderly controls without sleep complaints – elderly insomnia patients perform faster on a simple vigilance task but slower on a more complex vigilance task and interpreted this interaction effect in terms of the inverted U-shaped association between arousal and performance. Crenshaw and Edinger (1999) aimed to relate changes in psychomotor performance to brain activity during sleep and showed in elderly insomniacs, but not in elderly controls, a negative correlation of simple reaction times with the power in the sleep–EEG slow wave frequency band. In conclusion, the increased prevalence of insomnia in old age may contribute to the agerelated attenuated performance on reaction time tasks that appears to be most pronounced on more complex tasks. "
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