Cognitive executive dysfunction in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) after CPAP treatment

Sleep. 1998 Jun 15;21(4):392-7. doi: 10.1093/sleep/21.4.392.


We have previously described impairments of cognitive executive functions in 17 patients with OSAS in comparison with 17 normal controls, as assessed by various frontal-lobe-related tests. In the present study, 10 of these OSAS patients treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) were reevaluated after 4-6 months of treatment. Neuropsychological tasks explored attention, short-term memory span, learning abilities, planning capacities, categorizing activities, and verbal fluency. Patients were found to have normalized most of their cognitive executive and learning disabilities, but all the short-term memory tests remained unchanged. These findings are discussed in light of the contribution of the frontal-lobe-related systems to short-term memory functions, and the eventual pathogenic role played by sleep fragmentation and nocturnal hypoxemia, which are related to the occurrence of apneic and hypopneic events. In conclusion, short-term memory impairment was persistent in OSAS patients despite CPAP treatment for 4-6 months.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration / methods*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*
  • Time Factors