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Psychiatry Investig. 2008 Mar;5(1):45-51. doi: 10.4306/pi.2008.5.1.45. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

Comparison of low resolution electromagnetic tomography imaging between subjects with mild and severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a preliminary study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National Mental Hospital, Seoul, Korea.



The purpose of this study was to identify the regions of the brain associated with recurrent nocturnal chronic hypoxic episodes in patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) using low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) and quantitative electroencephalography (QEEG).


Nocturnal polysomnograph (NPSG) and subsequent morning electroencephalograph (EEG) were measured in 20 subjects with OSAS. Mild (n=10 ages 39.5+/-12.1 years) and severe (n=10 ages 41.7+/-13.6 years) right-handed male OSAS subjects were selected by interview and questionnaires including the NPSG, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. The LORETA and QEEG were compared between the severe and mild OSAS groups by frequency bands (delta 1-3 Hz, theta 4-7 Hz, alpha 8-12 Hz, beta1 13-18 Hz, beta2 19-21 Hz, beta3 22-30 Hz, and total 1-30 Hz) made by spectral analysis during resting with the eyes closed.


The LORETA analysis showed decreased alpha activity at the right posterior cingulate gyrus (Brodmann area 23) in cases with severe OSAS compared to mild OSAS (p<0.05). For the QEEG, the absolute power of the alpha activity (8-12 Hz) was decreased in P3 (p=0.047), PZ (p=0.039) and O2 (p=0.04) in cases with severe OSAS compared to mild OSAS cases. The LORETA and QEEG analyses had similar results with regard to band, activation and location.


The decreased activity of the alpha frequency in the right posterior cingulate gyrus, in patients with severe OSAS compared to those with mild OSAS, suggests that chronic repeated short-term hypoxia during sleep, in OSAS, could provoke cortical brain dysfunction associated with cognitive dysfunction such as memory and attention.


Hypoxic brain damage; Low-resolution electromagnetic tomography; Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome; Quantitative electroencephalography

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