Sleep brainwaves can help diagnose dementia


Sleep Health | Sleep Review

Science Daily: Certain brainwave patterns that occur while a person sleeps can be studied by doctors to help them diagnose dementia and other disorders related to memory, language and thinking.

A new study published in Sleep, led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), could help develop automated methods for detecting these brain wave patterns, or sleep spindles, and correlating them with cognitive function to improve .

Sleep spindles are bursts of brain activity that occur during non-REM sleep and can be assessed by electroencephalograms (EECs) using non-invasive electrodes placed on the scalp. Spindles are considered a “fingerprint” that varies from person to person, is highly heritable, and is usually consistent from night to night.

“With the increasing burden of neurodegenerative diseases, there is an urgent need for a sensitive biomarker of cognition. This has led to a surge in research examining sleep spindles, an oscillating pattern of brain activity observed during sleep, and its role in various neuropsychiatric disorders and cognitive performance,” says lead author Noor Adra, clinical research coordinator at MGH .

Although sleep spindles and other brain features represent promising potential electrophysiological markers for neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, recognizing and assessing sleep spindles is not straightforward. “People already know that these transient high-frequency events in the brain during sleep are closely linked to cognition, specifically learning and memory. But when you try to spot spindles among 100+ sleep records, things become less clear — like what the best threshold is, what the best minimum duration is, etc.,” says co-author Haoqi Sun, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Neurology at the MGH.

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