Nocturnal hypoxia and neuropsychological variables

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1986 Jun;8(3):229-38. doi: 10.1080/01688638608401315.


Hypoxia is a well known cause of brain dysfunction. Neuropsychological impairments have been observed in normal subjects experiencing hypoxia iatrogenically as well as in patients with chronic lung disease. Recent investigations have demonstrated significant nocturnal hypoxia in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing. In the present study, heavy-snoring males, a group known to experience frequent episodes of sleep-disordered breathing received neuropsychological testing and a night of continuous monitoring of respiratory parameters. Partial correlations, controlling for age, weight, and education, indicated reliable relationships between nocturnal hypoxia and measures of general intelligence, verbal and nonverbal memory, and expressive verbal fluency. It is proposed that heavy-snoring males may potentially serve as a population in which to model the neurobehavioral effects of hypoxia. Further research in subjects with sleep-disordered breathing may help clarify the extent of the possible cognitive deficits as well as point out possible ameliorative treatments.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / psychology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / psychology*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Risk
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / psychology*
  • Snoring / psychology*
  • Wechsler Scales