Cortical Structural Connectivity Alterations in Primary Insomnia: Insights from MRI-Based Morphometric Correlation Analysis

Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:817595. doi: 10.1155/2015/817595. Epub 2015 Oct 11.


The etiology and maintenance of insomnia are proposed to be associated with increased cognitive and physiological arousal caused by acute stressors and associated cognitive rumination. A core feature of such hyperarousal theory of insomnia involves increased sensory processing that interferes with the onset and maintenance of sleep. In this work, we collected structural magnetic resonance imaging data from 35 patients with primary insomnia and 35 normal sleepers and applied structural covariance analysis to investigate whether insomnia is associated with disruptions in structural brain networks centered at the sensory regions (primary visual, primary auditory, and olfactory cortex). As expected, insomnia patients showed increased structural covariance in cortical thickness between sensory and motor regions. We also observed trends of increased covariance between sensory regions and the default-mode network, and the salience network regions, and trends of decreased covariance between sensory regions and the frontoparietal working memory network regions, in insomnia patients. The observed changes in structural covariance tended to correlated with poor sleep quality. Our findings support previous functional neuroimaging studies and provide novel insights into variations in brain network configuration that may be involved in the pathophysiology of insomnia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult