PhD student in Psychiatry
Université de Montréal
Award-winning publication: Gray Matter Hypertrophy and Thickening with Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Middle-aged and Older Adults
Published in: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Obstructive sleep apnea is an airway blockage that causes a person's breathing to repeatedly stop during sleep. The sleep disorder is common in seniors and has been pinpointed as a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. It is therefore critical to gain a better understanding of how obstructive sleep apnea affects elderly people's brains. Andrée-Ann Baril and her team evaluated the association between the severity of obstructive sleep apnea and grey matter structure in 71 participants ages 55 years and over, most of which were pre-symptomatic. The findings revealed that the severity markers of obstructive sleep apnea are linked to local increases in grey matter size, which could denote responsive and compensatory mechanisms, such as changes in the amounts, size or water content of the cells. If additional longitudinal studies prove the hypothesis correct, the results would suggest that the brain changes brought about by obstructive sleep apnea may be reversible in asymptomatic seniors.