Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia

Date:
August 30, 2013
Source:
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Summary:
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.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Drummond SPA; Walker M; Almklov E; Campos M; Anderson DE; Straus LD. Neural correlates of working memory performance in primary insomnia.. SLEEP, 2013;36(9):1307-1316 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830161321.htm>.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2013, August 30). Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830161321.htm
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Brain imaging study reveals the wandering mind behind insomnia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830161321.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins