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Chronic Insomnia and MRI-Measured Hippocampal Volumes: A Pilot Study

  [ 272 votes ]   [ 4 Comments ]
By D Riemann, et al. • • August 14, 2007

Study Objectives: Morphometric analysis of magnetic resonance imaging brain scans was used to investigate possible neuroanatomic differences between patients with primary insomnia compared to good sleepers.

Design: MRI images (1.5 Tesla) of the brain were obtained from insomnia patients and good sleepers. MRI scans were analyzed bilaterally by manual morphometry for different brain areas including hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate, orbitofron-tal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Setting: University Hospital Sleep Center and Radiology Department Participants: 8 unmedicated physician-referred patients with chronic primary insomnia (3 males, 5 females; 48.4 + 16.3 years) and 8 good sleepers matched for age, sex, body mass index, and education.

Interventions: N/A

Measurements and Results:

  • Patients with primary insomnia demonstrated significantly reduced hippocampal volumes bilaterally compared to the good sleepers.

  • None of the other regions of interest analyzed revealed differences between the 2 groups.

    Conclusions: These pilot data raise the possibility that chronic insomnia is associated with alterations in brain structure.

    Replication of the findings in larger samples is needed to confirm the validity of the data. The integration of structural, neuropsychological, neuroendocrine and polysomnographic studies is necessary to further assess the relationships between insomnia and brain function and structure

    Source: Sleep. August 1, 2007, volume 30(8) ; pp 955-958,, by Riemann D, Ulrich Voderholzer U, Spiegelhalder K, Hornyak M, Buysse DJ, Nissen C, Hennig J, Perlis ML, van Elst LT, Feige B. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany; Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Department of Radiology, Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany; Department of Psychiatry of the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.

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    Article Comments Post a Comment

    sample size
    Posted by: pris2000
    Aug 15, 2007
    I was trained in research methodology and a sample size of 16 isn't nearly large enough to post here, in my opinion, even as a pilot study. Not only is a larger sample size needed, but replication of the results.
    Reply Reply

    sample size
    Posted by: noteworthy
    Aug 20, 2007
    Hi I am not trained and I'm wondering what "sample size" you are referring to and what is a "sample size?"


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