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Memory Consolidation in Obstructive Sleep Apnea


This study will test the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to reverse some or all memory deficits in people with obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder. In addition, researchers will explore which aspects of sleep apnea most likely impact sleep-dependent memory processing.

Minimum Age Maximum Age Gender Healthy Volunteers
18 Years 80 Years Both Yes
August 2011
December 2015

All Participants

  • Good health as determined by medical and psychiatric history and physical examination
  • Ability to complete self-rating scales and computer-based testing
  • Beck Depression Inventory score of 16 or less
  • Ability to abstain from alcohol consumption throughout sessions 1 and 2

Sleep Apnea Participants

  • Newly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea
  • No prior exposure to CPAP
  • Quantified apnea-hypopnea index greater than 5/hr (AHI, defined as the number of apneas and/or hypopneas per hour of sleep)
  • Ability to limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink daily and no more than four drinks weekly between sessions 1 and 2
  • Subgroup of sleep-apnea participants who take antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants, or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors) will be recruited

  • History of clinically significant, uncontrolled medical or psychiatric disorders (other than obstructive sleep apnea and treated hypertension) that could influence excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Healthy controls will be excluded with Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score of >10/24; sleep-apea participants will be excluded from randomization with an ESS score >18/24
  • History of serious heart disease or renal failure
  • History of head injury
  • Inability to type or to exercise
  • Any history of alcohol, narcotic, or other drug abuse
  • Use of medications, over-the-counter drugs, or nutritional supplements known to affect sleep, cognition, and/or daytime alertness
  • Pregnancy
  • Any of the following sleep disorders: Cheyne-Stokes breathing or central sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorder, REM sleep without atonia, REM sleep behavior disorder, parasomnias, insomnia, narcolepsy
  • Left-handedness
  • Uncorrected vision impairment and/or visual field defect

CPAP is a machine with a tight-fitting face mask used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the flow of air pauses or decreases during breathing while sleeping because the airway has become narrowed, blocked, or floppy. Participants who use CPAP will be compared to those who do not after 3 months to determine any differences in performance on cognitive tasks for which sleep-dependent memory consolidation processes have been shown to be important.

Name City State Zip Status Primary Contact
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston Massachusetts 02115

Brigham and Women's Hospital

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Name Role Affiliation
Ina Djonlagic, MD Principal Investigator Brigham and Women's Hospital

Name Phone Email
Mengshuang Guo 617-525-8709 MGUO2@PARTNERS.ORG


Memory Consolidation in Obstructive Sleep Apnea