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PLoS One. 2014 Feb 28;9(2):e90647. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090647. eCollection 2014.

Electrophysiological assessment of the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on cognition.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Hacettepe University Medical School, Ankara, Turkey.
  • 2Department of Biophysics, Hacettepe University Medical School, Ankara, Turkey.
  • 3Sleep Laboratory, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, SGK Ankara Education Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.
  • 4Department of Biophysics, Koç University Medical School, İstanbul, Turkey.


We used electrophysiological measures to investigate the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on attention, learning, and memory. Thirty subjects (OSA group, n = 15, control group n = 15) participated in n-back tests, accompanied by P300 recordings, to investigate working memory and attention. The mirror-drawing test was used to study procedural memory, and the trail-making test (TMT) was used to evaluate divided attention and executive function. No significant group difference in reaction time was found in the 0-back and 1-back tests. In the 2-back test, reaction times of patients were longer than those of the control group. No P300 wave was obtained in the OSA group in any (0-, 1-, or 2-back) n-back test. In contrast, in the control group, significant P300 waves were recorded except for the 2-back test. The mirror-drawing scores were unaffected by sleep apnea. There was no difference between groups in the TMT-A test on any of the trials. Although no group difference was found in the first or second trials of the TMT-B test, OSA patients were less successful in learning on the third trial. According to our study results, OSA affects attention and executive function adversely however, we could not detect a significant effect on working or procedural memory.

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