Reduced orbitofrontal and parietal gray matter in chronic insomnia: a voxel-based morphometric study.

Ellemarije Altena, Hugo Vrenken, Ysbrand D. Van Der Werf, Odile A. van den Heuvel, Eus J.W. Van Someren
Biological Psychiatry. 2010-01-01; 67(2): 182-185
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.003

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1. Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Jan 15;67(2):182-5. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.003.

Reduced orbitofrontal and parietal gray matter in chronic insomnia: a voxel-based
morphometric study.

Altena E(1), Vrenken H, Van Der Werf YD, van den Heuvel OA, Van Someren EJ.

Author information:
(1)Department of Sleep & Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1105 BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

BACKGROUND: Brain mechanisms of chronic insomnia, a highly prevalent condition,
have barely been investigated. We demonstrate here a decrease in orbitofrontal
gray matter (GM) volume that strongly correlates with the severity of complaints.
METHODS: In a case-control study, optimized voxel-based morphometry was used to
compare the regional brain volumes of 24 medication-free chronic primary insomnia
patients (age range 52-74 years, 17 women), carefully selected to exclude
psychiatric comorbidity, with those of 13 matched control subjects without sleep
problems (age range 50-76 years, 9 women). Additionally, the correlation of
regional volumes with insomnia severity was investigated.
RESULTS: Patients had a smaller volume of GM in the left orbitofrontal cortex,
strongly correlating (r = -.71) with the subjective severity of insomnia.
Furthermore, reduced GM volume was found in the anterior and posterior precuneus.
Patients did not show increased GM volume in any area. No group differences were
found for white matter volume.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first voxel-based morphometry study showing structural
brain correlates of insomnia and their relation with insomnia severity.
Functional roles of the affected areas in decision-making and stimulus processing
might better guide future research into the poorly understood condition of
insomnia.

DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.08.003
PMID: 19782344 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


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