Linking brain structure, cognition, and sleep: insights from clinical data.

Wei R, Ganglberger W, Sun H, Hadar PN, Gollub RL, Pieper S, Billot B, Au R, Iglesias JE, Cash SS, Kim S, Shin C, Westover B, Thomas RJ. Linking brain structure, cognition, and sleep: insights from clinical data. Sleep. 2024;47(2).


STUDY OBJECTIVES: To use relatively noisy routinely collected clinical data (brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, clinical polysomnography (PSG) recordings, and neuropsychological testing), to investigate hypothesis-driven and data-driven relationships between brain physiology, structure, and cognition.

METHODS: We analyzed data from patients with clinical PSG, brain MRI, and neuropsychological evaluations. SynthSeg, a neural network-based tool, provided high-quality segmentations despite noise. A priori hypotheses explored associations between brain function (measured by PSG) and brain structure (measured by MRI). Associations with cognitive scores and dementia status were studied. An exploratory data-driven approach investigated age-structure-physiology-cognition links.

RESULTS: Six hundred and twenty-three patients with sleep PSG and brain MRI data were included in this study; 160 with cognitive evaluations. Three hundred and forty-two participants (55%) were female, and age interquartile range was 52 to 69 years. Thirty-six individuals were diagnosed with dementia, 71 with mild cognitive impairment, and 326 with major depression. One hundred and fifteen individuals were evaluated for insomnia and 138 participants had an apnea-hypopnea index equal to or greater than 15. Total PSG delta power correlated positively with frontal lobe/thalamic volumes, and sleep spindle density with thalamic volume. rapid eye movement (REM) duration and amygdala volume were positively associated with cognition. Patients with dementia showed significant differences in five brain structure volumes. REM duration, spindle, and slow-oscillation features had strong associations with cognition and brain structure volumes. PSG and MRI features in combination predicted chronological age (R2 = 0.67) and cognition (R2 = 0.40).

CONCLUSIONS: Routine clinical data holds extended value in understanding and even clinically using brain-sleep-cognition relationships.

Last updated on 03/14/2024