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Multimodal Neuroimaging of Human Brain Deficits after Sleep Deprivation

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

4:00 PM-5:30 PM

BIOMED Seminar

Multimodal Neuroimaging of Human Brain Deficits After Sleep Deprivation

Hengyi Rao, PhD
Research Assistant Professor 
Center for Functional Neuroimaging
Department of Neurology
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Human typically spends around one-third of their lives sleeping. Obtaining sufficient sleep is essential for optimal brain and behavioral functioning. However, millions of people, including many students, frequently reduce their sleep time due to work demands, leisure time, and family obligations. From 1985 to 2012, the number of US adults habitually sleeping less than 6h/night nearly doubled to about 70 million, prompting the CDC to consider sleep loss as a public health epidemic. Sleep loss has been shown to reduce alertness and vigilance, slow psychomotor and cognitive speed, increase sleep propensity, promote wake state instability, and cause considerable social, financial and health-related costs.

A recent evidence-based consensus recommendation for the amount of sleep needed to promote optimal health in adults concluded that sleeping less than 7 hours/night (especially ≤6h) was associated with impaired performance, greater risk of accidents, and adverse health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, impaired immune function, increased pain, and risk of death. Although the negative effects of sleep loss on human behavior have been studied for more than a century, how sleep deprivation impairs human brain remains unclear.

There is an urgent need to understand how sleep loss affects human brain structure and function. Here we used multimodal neuroimaging approach to examine the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on human brain activity and connectivity as well as the relationships between brain deficits and behavior dysfunction after sleep loss.

Hengyi Rao, PhD, is a Research-track Assistant Professor at the Center for Functional Neuroimaging, Department of Neurology, and the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He has conducted research in the field of human brain imaging for over 20 years. His research focuses on integrating multiple brain imaging and electrophysiological techniques (such as ASL/BOLD fMRI, PET, EEG/ERP, tDCS, TMS, etc.), with behavioral paradigms and genetic methods to understand the neural bases for cognition and emotion in both healthy individuals and clinical populations.

Dr. Rao has served as the PI for several NIH R01, R21, and R03 projects to study addiction, depression, fatigue, and sleep deprivation, and has contributed over 80 peer-reviewed publications. Currently, Dr. Rao is leading a NIH R01 study to determine the neural substrates underlying the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation, which may serve as the targets for future pharmacological and neuromodulatory interventions for depression.

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