Effects of obstructive sleep apnea on human spatial navigational memory processing in cognitively normal older individuals

Anna E. Mullins, Masrai K. Williams, Korey Kam, Ankit Parekh, Omonigho M. Bubu, Bresne Castillo, Zachary J. Roberts, David M. Rapoport, Indu Ayappa, Ricardo S. Osorio, Andrew W. Varga

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9 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) prevalence increases with age, but whether OSA-related sleep disruption could interrupt the processing of previously encoded wake information thought to normally occur during sleep in cognitively normal older adults remains unknown. Methods: Fifty-two older (age = 66.9 ± 7.7 years, 56% female), community-dwelling, cognitively normal adults explored a 3-D maze environment and then performed 3 timed trials before (evening) and after (morning) sleep recorded with polysomnography with a 20-minute morning psychomotor vigilance test. Results: Twenty-two (22) participants had untreated OSA [apnea-hypopnea index (AHI4%) ≥ 5 events/h] where severity was mild on average [median (interquartile range); AHI4% = 11.0 (20.7) events/h] and 30 participants had an AHI4% < 5 events/h. No significant differences were observed in overnight percent change in completion time or in the pattern of evening presleepmaze performance. However, during themorning postsleep trials, there was a significant interaction between OSA group and morning trial number such that participants with OSA performed worse on average with each subsequent morning trial, whereas those without OSA showed improvements. There were no significant differences in morning psychomotor vigilance test performance, suggesting that vigilance is unlikely to account for this difference in morning maze performance. Increasing relative frontal slow wave activity was associated with better overnight maze performance improvement in participants with OSA (r = .51, P =.02) but not in those without OSA, and no differences in slow wave activity were observed between groups. Conclusions: OSA alters morning performance in spatial navigation independent of a deleterious effect on morning vigilance or evening navigation performance. Relative frontal slow wave activity is associated with overnight performance change in older participants with OSA, but not those without.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)939-948
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2021


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