The role of sleep on cognition and functional connectivity in patients with multiple sclerosis

Quinten van Geest*, B. Westerik, Y. D. van der Werf, J. J G Geurts, H. E. Hulst

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sleep disturbances are common in multiple sclerosis (MS), but its impact on cognition and functional connectivity (FC) of the hippocampus and thalamus is unknown. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between sleep disturbances, cognitive functioning and resting-state (RS) FC of the hippocampus and thalamus in MS. 71 MS patients and 40 healthy controls underwent neuropsychological testing and filled out self-report questionnaires (anxiety, depression, fatigue, and subjective cognitive problems). Sleep disturbances were assed with the five-item version of the Athens Insomnia Scale. Hippocampal and thalamic volume and RS FC of these regions were determined. Twenty-three patients were categorized as sleep disturbed and 48 as normal sleeping. No differences were found between disturbed and normal sleeping patients concerning cognition and structural MRI. Sleep disturbed patients reported more subjective cognitive problems, and displayed decreased FC between the thalamus and middle and superior frontal gyrus, inferior frontal operculum, anterior cingulate cortex, inferior parietal gyrus, precuneus, and angular gyrus compared to normal sleeping patients. We conclude that sleep disturbances in MS are not (directly) related to objective cognitive functioning, but rather to subjective cognitive problems. In addition, sleep disturbances in MS seem to coincide with a specific pattern of decreased thalamic FC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

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