Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 487–493 | Cite as

fMRI brain activation in patients with insomnia disorder during a working memory task

  • Young-Don Son
  • Jae Myeong Kang
  • Seong-Jin Cho
  • Jung-Sun Lee
  • Hee Young Hwang
  • Seung-Gul Kang
Neurology • Original Article



This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate differences in the functional brain activation of patients with insomnia disorder (n = 21, mean age = 36.6) and of good sleepers (n = 26, mean age = 33.2) without other comorbidities or structural brain abnormalities during a working memory task.


All participants completed a clinical questionnaire, were subjected to portable polysomnography (PSG), and performed the working memory task during an fMRI scan. The subjects who were suspected of major sleep disorder and comorbid psychiatric disorders except insomnia disorder were excluded. To compare the brain activation on working memory from the insomnia group with those from the good-sleeper group, a two-sample t test was performed. Statistical significance was determined using 3DClustSim with the updated algorithm to obtain a reasonable cluster size and p value for each analysis.


We observed higher levels of brain activation in the right lateral inferior frontal cortex and the right superior temporal pole in the insomnia group compared to good sleepers (cluster-based multiple comparison correction, p < 0.001, k = 34 @ α = 0.01).


Thus, patients with insomnia disorder showed increased brain activation during working memory relative to good sleepers, and this may be indicative of compensatory brain activation to maintain cognitive performance in patients with insomnia disorder without other comorbidities.


Insomnia disorder fMRI Working memory Brain activation 



This work was supported by the Gachon University Gil Medical Center (Grant number: 2013-43).

Compliance with ethical standards

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.

Financial disclosures

The authors have indicated no financial conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11325_2017_1575_MOESM1_ESM.docx (320 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 320 kb)
11325_2017_1575_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 18.1 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Health ScienceGachon UniversityIncheonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Gil Medical Center, College of MedicineGachon UniversityIncheonRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Ulsan College of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyGachon University Gil Medical CenterIncheonRepublic of Korea

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