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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42312. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042312. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

Reduced neural synchrony in patients with restless legs syndrome during a visual oddball task.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health Science, Yonsei University, Wonju, South Korea.



Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensorimotor neurological disorder characterized by an irresistible urge to move the legs. It has been reported that RLS patients show cognitive deficits, presumably due to hyperactivity causing loss of attention, or malfunctions in the frontal region resulting from sleep deprivation. However, the mechanism underlying cognitive deficits in RLS patients is mostly unknown. As an effort to clarifying this, we investigated the differences in neural activity and phase synchrony between healthy controls and RLS patients during cognitive task performances.


Seventeen female drug-naive RLS patients were enrolled in the study, and an age-matched group of thirteen healthy female volunteers served as controls. Multichannel event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from RLS patients and normal controls while performing a visual oddball task. In addition to conventional analyses of ERP waveforms and spectra, interregional gamma-band phase synchrony (GBPS) was investigated to observe the differences in interregional neural synchronies between normal and RLS patient groups. Strong GBPS was observed primarily between anterior and posterior regions along the midline for both groups. Along with significant reduction and delay of P300 ERP and induced gamma-band activity (GBA), the GBPS was considerably decreased in RLS patients compared to normal subjects, especially at frontal region.


Overall, our results support that cognitive dysfunction in RLS patients is associated with reduced interregional neural synchrony as well as alterations in local neural activity.

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