Fragmentation of the rest-activity rhythm correlates with age-related cognitive deficits

Authors

  • JOUKJE M. OOSTERMAN,

    1. Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • EUS J. W. VAN SOMEREN,

    1. Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    2. Departments of Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology and Medical Psychology and Alzheimer Center, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • RAYMOND L. C. VOGELS,

    1. Department of Neurology, Medical Center Alkmaar, Alkmaar, The Netherlands
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  • BARBERA VAN HARTEN,

    1. Department of Neurology, Medical Center Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
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  • ERIK J. A. SCHERDER

    1. Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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J. M. Oosterman, Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 30 253 3651; fax: +31 30 253 4511; e-mail: j.m.oosterman@uu.nl

Summary

Aging affects both cognitive performance and the sleep-wake rhythm. The recent surge of studies that support a role of sleep for cognitive performance in healthy young adults suggests that disturbed sleep-wake rhythms may contribute to ‘age-related’ cognitive decline. This relationship has however not previously been extensively investigated. The present correlational study integrated a battery of standardized cognitive tests to investigate the association of mental speed, memory, and executive function with actigraphically recorded sleep-wake rhythms in 144 home-dwelling elderly participants aged 69.5 ± 8.5 (mean ± SD). Multiple regression analyses showed that the partial correlations of the fragmentation of the sleep-wake rhythm with each of the three cognitive domains (r = −0.16, −0.19, and −0.16 respectively) were significant. These associations were independent from main effects of age, implying that a unique relationship between the rest-activity rhythm and cognitive performance is present in elderly people.

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