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Sleep Med. 2015 Jan;16(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.07.025. Epub 2014 Nov 6.

Subjective deficits of attention, cognition and depression in patients with narcolepsy.

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Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstr. 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Electronic address:
Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstr. 35, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.



Patients with narcolepsy often complain about attention deficits in everyday situations. In comparison with these subjective complaints, deficits in objective testing are subtler. The present study assessed the relationships between subjective complaints, objectively measured cognitive performance, disease-related variables, and mood.


A total of 51 patients with narcolepsy and 35 healthy controls responded to questionnaires regarding subjectively perceived attention deficits, sleepiness, anxiety and depression. Moreover, they performed an extensive neuropsychological assessment tapping into attention, executive functions, and memory.


Patients rated their level of attention in everyday situations to be relatively poor. In an objective assessment of cognitive functioning, they showed only slight attention and executive function deficits. The subjective ratings of attention deficits significantly correlated with ratings of momentary sleepiness, anxiety, and depression, but not with objectively measured cognitive performance. Momentary sleepiness and depression predicted almost 39% of the variance in the ratings of subjectively perceived attention deficits.


The present study showed that sleepiness and depression, more than objective cognitive deficits, might play a role in the subjectively perceived attention deficits of patients with narcolepsy. The results suggested that when counselling and treating patients with narcolepsy, clinicians should pay attention to potential depression because subjective cognitive complaints may not relate to objective cognitive impairments.


Attention; Depression; Executive functions; Narcolepsy; Neuropsychology; Subjective ratings

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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