Chronic sleep deprivation, sustained attention, dynamic functional connectivity, partial least squares, small world brain network, graph theoretic analysis
It is estimated that about 35-40% of adults in the U.S. suffer from insufficient sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has become a prevalent phenomenon because of contemporary lifestyle and work-related factors. Sleep deprivation can reduce the capabilities and efficiency of attentional performance by impairing perception, increasing effort to maintain concentration, as well as introducing vision disturbance. Thus, it is important to understand the neural mechanisms behind how chronic sleep deprivation impairs sustained attention. In recent years, more attention has been paid to the study of the integration between anatomically distributed and functionally connected brain regions. Functional connectivity has been widely used to characterize brain functional integration, which measures the statistical dependency between neurophysiological events of the human brain. Further, evidence from recent studies has shown the non-stationary nature of brain functional connectivity, which may reveal more information about the human brain. Thus, the objective of this thesis is to investigate the effects of chronic sleep deprivation on sustained attention from the perspective of dynamic functional connectivity. A modified spatial cueing paradigm was used to assess human sustained attention in rested wakefulness and chronic sleep deprivation conditions. Partial least squares approach was applied to distinguish brain functional connectivity for the experimental conditions. With the integration of a sliding-window approach, dynamic patterns of brain functional connectivity were identified in two experimental conditions. The brain was modeled as a series of dynamic functional networks in each experimental condition. Graph theoretic analysis was performed to investigate the dynamic properties of brain functional networks, using network measures of clustering coefficient and characteristics path length. In the chronic sleep deprivation condition, a compensation mechanism between highly clustered organization and ineffective adaptability of brain functional networks was observed. Specifically, a highly clustered organization of brain functional networks was illustrated with a large clustering coefficient. This organization suggested that brain utilizes more connections to maintain attention in the chronic sleep deprivation condition. A smaller impact of clustering coefficient variation on characteristics path lengths indicated an ineffective adaptability of brain functional networks in the chronic sleep deprivation condition. In the rested wakefulness condition, brain functional networks showed the small-world topology in general, with the average small-world topology index larger than one. Small-world topology was identified as an optimal network structure with the balance between local information processing and global integration. Given the fluctuating values of the index over time, small-world brain networks were observed in most cases, indicating an effective adaptability of the human brain to maintain the dominance of small-world networks in the rested wakefulness condition. On the contrary, given that the average small-world topology index was smaller than one, brain functional networks generally exhibited random network structure. From the perspective of dynamic functional networks, even though there were few cases showing small-world brain networks, brain functional networks failed to maintain the dominance of small-world topology in the chronic sleep deprivation condition. In conclusion, to the best of our knowledge this thesis was the first to investigate the effects of chronic sleep deprivation on sustained attention from the perspective of dynamic brain functional connectivity. A compensation mechanism between highly clustered organization and ineffective adaptability of brain functional networks was observed in the chronic sleep deprivation condition. Furthermore, chronic sleep deprivation impaired sustained attention by reducing the effectiveness of brain functional networks' adaptability, resulting in the disrupted dominance of small-world brain networks.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Industrial Engineering and Management Systems
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science; Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic
He, Yiling, "The Effects of Chronic Sleep Deprivation on Sustained Attention: A Study of Brain Dynamic Functional Connectivity" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1423.