The relationship between obstructive sleep apnoea and cognitive function

HPA Magazine 14


The research is entitled “Obstructive Sleep Apnoea: The Effects of Apnoea-Hypopnea Index, Oxygen Desaturation and Daytime Sleepiness on Cognitive Function” and aims to understand the causes of neuro-cognitive decline in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), namely those associated with apnoea-hypopnea, oxygen desaturation and daytime sleepiness.
The results revealed impairment in the general cognitive performance of severely affected patients, but no deficit was observed in patients with mild and moderate OSA. Although no other evidence of cognitive impairment was found in patients when analysed according to the severity of the disease, an analysis that included all apnoea patients revealed an increase in deficit of attention, memory and cognitive flexibility. The severity of the disease, desaturation and excessive daytime sleepiness, did not contribute significantly to the development of most of these deficits, suggesting that other mechanisms not explored in this study may be involved.
The results revealed, however, that excessive daytime sleepiness has a negative influence in the capacity for inhibitory control in patients with OSA, confirming the harmful effects in the prefrontal cortex circuit of sleep interruption and poor sleep quality. Overall, this study emphasizes the impact of OSA on cognition, regardless of the severity of the disease, as well as the importance of psychological aspects of this disorder.
The research resulted from a partnership between the Algarve University (UALg) and the HPA, and was part of the Master's Degree in Cognitive Neurosciences and Neuropsychology. Miguel Coutinho (Neuropsychologist of the HPA Group), Laura Nedel Duarte (Neuropsychology Intern at UALg), Vinícius Duarte (Neurophysiology Technician at the HPA Group) and Dina Silva (Researcher and Professor at UAlg) were part of the group of researchers.