Cognitive and neuroimaging correlates of the insomnia severity index in obstructive sleep apnea: A pilot-study

Alberto R. Ramos, Noam Alperin, Sang Lee, Kevin A. Gonzalez, Wassim Tarraf, Rene Hernandez-Cardenache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We aim to determine the sleep correlates of age-related brain loss in a sample of middleaged to older males with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We recruited consecutive treatment naïve male patients with moderate to severe OSA from January to November of 2019. We excluded participants if they had dementia, stroke or heart disease. We collected demographic variables and vascular risk factors. We also obtained the insomnia severity index, the Epworth sleepiness scale and the Pittsburgh sleep quality index. We also obtained computerized neurocognitive testing with the gono-go response inhibition test, Stroop interference test, catch game test, staged information processing speed test, verbal memory test and non-verbal memory test. We derived age and education adjusted domain-specific Z-scores for global cognition, memory, attention, processing speed and executive function. We used brain MRI T1-weighted images to derive total hippocampal and gray matter volumes. Partial correlations evaluated associations between variables from sleep questionnaires (e.g., insomnia severity index score), and polysomnographic variables (the apnea-hypopnea index, average oxygen levels during sleep) with cognitive domains and brain volumes. We examined 16 participants with an age range of 40–76 years, 73% Hispanic/Latino. The mean apnea-hypopnea index was 48.9 ± 25.5 and average oxygen saturation during sleep was 91.4% ± 6.9%. Hypertension was seen in 66% and diabetes mellitus in 27%. We found that the insomnia severity index score and average oxygen levels during sleep had the strongest correlations with brain volumes and cognition. These preliminary findings may aid in developing future strategies to improve age-related brain loss in patients with OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5314
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2 2021


  • Brain health
  • Cognitive
  • Hypoxemia
  • MRI
  • Sleep apnea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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