All-night functional magnetic resonance imaging sleep studies

J Neurosci Methods. 2019 Mar 15;316:83-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.09.019. Epub 2018 Sep 20.


Background: Previous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sleep studies have been hampered by the difficulty of obtaining extended amounts of sleep in the sleep-adverse environment of the scanner and often have resorted to manipulations such as sleep depriving subjects before scanning. These manipulations limit the generalizability of the results.

New method: The current study is a methodological validation of procedures aimed at obtaining all-night fMRI data in sleeping subjects with minimal exposure to experimentally induced sleep deprivation. Specifically, subjects slept in the scanner on two consecutive nights, allowing the first night to serve as an adaptation night.

Results/comparison with existing method(s): Sleep scoring results from simultaneously acquired electroencephalography data on Night 2 indicate that subjects (n = 12) reached the full spectrum of sleep stages including slow-wave (M = 52.1 min, SD = 26.5 min) and rapid eye movement (REM, M = 45.2 min, SD = 27.9 min) sleep and exhibited a mean of 2.1 (SD = 1.1) nonREM-REM sleep cycles.

Conclusions: It was found that by diligently applying fundamental principles and methodologies of sleep and neuroimaging science, performing all-night fMRI sleep studies is feasible. However, because the two nights of the study were performed consecutively, some sleep deprivation from Night 1 as a cause of the Night 2 results is likely, so consideration should be given to replicating the current study with a washout period. It is envisioned that other laboratories can adopt the core features of this protocol to obtain similar results.

Trial registration: NCT02629107.

Keywords: Design; Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); Method; Neural circuits; Procedure; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Associated data