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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 29;9(1):e85918. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085918. eCollection 2014.

Untreated sleep-disordered breathing: links to aging-related decline in sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

Author information

1
Division of Sleep Medicine Sleep Disorders Research Program Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America ; Center for Sleep and Cognition, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
2
Division of Sleep Medicine Sleep Disorders Research Program Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
3
Center for Sleep and Cognition, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
4
Division of Sleep Medicine Sleep Disorders Research Program Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America ; Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Increasing age is associated with a decline in cognition and motor skills, while at the same time exacerbating one's risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA-related cognitive deficits are highly prevalent and can affect various memory systems including overnight memory consolidation on a motor sequence task. Thus, the aim of our study was to examine the effect of aging on sleep-dependent motor memory consolidation in patients with and without OSA.

METHODS:

We studied 44 patients (19-68 years) who had been referred by a physician for a baseline polysomnography (PSG) evaluation. Based on their PSG, patients were assigned either to the OSA group (AHI>5/h), or control (Non-OSA) group (AHI<5/h). All subjects performed the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) and the Motor Sequence Learning Task (MST) in the evening and again in the morning after their PSG.

RESULTS:

Despite similar learning in the evening, OSA subjects showed significantly less overnight improvement on the MST, both for immediate (OSA -2.7% ± 2.8% vs. controls 12.2% ± 3.5%; p = 0.002) and plateau improvement (OSA 4.9% ± 2.3% vs. controls 21.1%± 4.0%; p = 0.001). Within the OSA group, there was a significant negative correlation between overnight MST improvement and age (r(2) = 0.3; p = 0.01), an effect that was not observed in the Non-OSA group (r(2) = 0.08; p = 0.23).

CONCLUSIONS:

Consistent with previous research, healthy sleepers demonstrated a higher degree of sleep-dependent overnight improvement on the MST, an effect not mitigated by increasing age. However, the presence of untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an aging-related cognitive deficit, otherwise not present in individuals without OSA. As other research has linked the presence of OSA to a higher likelihood of developing dementia, future studies are necessary to examine if the inhibition of memory consolidation is tied to the onset of neurodegenerative disease.

PMID:
24489679
PMCID:
PMC3906012
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0085918
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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