Working memory impairment and cardiovascular hyperarousal in young primary insomniacs



We investigated memory performance and cardiovascular activity in 13 primary insomniacs (PI) compared to 13 good sleepers (GS). Cardiovascular and hemodynamic measures, including heart rate, pre-ejection period, and blood pressure, were continuously recorded at rest and during two memory tasks. PI showed working memory impairment under high cognitive load, but performed as well as GS in an easy memory task. In addition, PI exhibited markers of hyperarousal both at rest and during the execution of the two tasks. However, we failed to find a clear-cut relationship between cardiovascular hyperarousal and cognitive performance in insomniacs. Our data provide further evidence of both cognitive impairment and cardiovascular hyperarousal in primary insomnia, while not supporting the hypothesis of hyperarousal as a compensatory mechanism to overcome cognitive challenges.