Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 1759–1767 | Cite as

Altered gray matter volume in primary insomnia patients: a DARTEL-VBM study

  • Meng Li
  • Jianhao Yan
  • Shumei Li
  • Tianyue Wang
  • Hua Wen
  • Yi Yin
  • Shishun Fu
  • Luxian Zeng
  • Junzhang Tian
  • Guihua JiangEmail author


Previous neuroimaging studies have reported brain morphological alterations and the occurrence of mental disorders in primary insomnia (PI) patients. However, studies of the effect of disrupted sleep on brain structure have showed inconsistent results. In this study, DARTEL-VBM was used to evaluate the changes in gray matter volume from 60 PI patients and 53 controls. Voxel-wise statistics was performed in two ways. One is a more liberal statistical analysis using an uncorrected P < 0. 001 with 25 voxels, and the other one is a more conservative approach using a threshold of P < 0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons using the Gaussian random field (GRF) method. Partial correlation was used to analyze the relationship between abnormal volume and clinical features. PI patients had reduced gray matter volume primarily in the right middle cingulate cortex with correction (P < 0.05). Correlation analysis showed gray matter changes in the left middle cingulate cortex were negatively associated with self-ratings for anxiety and depression. This study showed that gray matter deficits in cingulate cortex in patients with insomnia, and the decreased gray matter volume may be associated with the difficulties in emotional management due to insomnia. Functional roles of the affected regions in emotion and regulation of sleep might provide supplementary evidence and guide further research that may facilitate understanding the mechanisms underlying insomnia.


Primary insomnia Gray matter volume DARTEL-VBM Middle cingulate cortex Emotion 



This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant number: 81471639, 81771807, and 81701111), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province, China (Grant number: 2016A020215125, and 2017A020215077), the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China (Grant number: 2015A030313723), and the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou, Guangdong, China (Grant number: 201607010056).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Author Meng Li declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Jianhao Yan declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Shumei Li declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Tianyue Wang declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Hua Wen declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Yi Yin declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Shishun Fu declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Luxian Zeng declare that they have no conflict of interest. Author Junzhang Tian declare that they have no conflict of interest. Guihua Jiang declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Medical ImagingGuangdong Second Provincial General HospitalGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.The Department of Science and EducationGuangdong Second Provincial General HospitalGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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