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Sleep Quality and Task Performance


IGERT trainee Jennie Schei is developing optical technologies to image the brain and use these techniques to study sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. When a neuron is stimulated, there is an electrochemical response that can be measured by EEG. This activation requires energy resources that are replenished through a blood response following the electrical response. Using the absorption properties of blood, we measure the changes in hemoglobin concentration and blood volume optically, based on the Beer-Lambert law. In previous studies, we have shown that evoked electrical and vascular responses are larger during sleep compared to wake. During sleep, cells synchronously oscillate, which is less metabolically demanding than a wake state where there is a higher probability of spontaneous neural activity. As a result, blood vessels may be able to relax during sleep and restore the ability to supply blood to the region. We recently investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on the electrical and blood responses in the brain and found that with longer amounts of sleep deprivation, the electrical response remains the same but the blood response is smaller. These results support that one mechanism of sleep may be due to decreased vascular compliance, decreased blood delivery, and a metabolic demand that exceeds the supply.

Address Goals

The work conducted by Jennie and her advisers, Dave Rector (Neuroscience) and Matt McClusky (Physics) is offering new insights into sleep quality and its effect on task performance by individuals. Ongoing work includes gathering sleep data for volunteer older adult participants with early onset of dementia. This data will be used to continue this study and will be disseminated to the community along with activity data collected in the smart apartment to allow researchers to study the connection between sleep quality, dementia, and task performance.