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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Preserved sleep microstructure in blind individuals

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The loss of vision, particularly when it occurs early in life, is associated with compensatory cortical plasticity not only in the visual cortical areas, but throughout the entire brain. The absence of visual input to the retina can also induce changes in entrainment of the circadian rhythm, as light is the primary zeitgeber of the master biological clock found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. In addition, a greater number of sleep disturbances is often reported in blind individuals. Here, we examined various electroencephalographic microstructural components of sleep, both during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-REM (NREM) sleep, between blind individuals, including both of early and late onset, and normal-sighted controls. During wakefulness, occipital alpha oscillations were lower, or absent in blind individuals. During sleep, differences were observed across electrode derivations between the early and late blind samples, which may reflect altered cortical networking in early blindness. Despite these differences in power spectra density, the electroencephalography microstructure of sleep, including sleep spindles, slow wave activity, and sawtooth waves, remained present in the absence of vision.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSleep Medicine
Volume42
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
ISSN1389-9457
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 56596009