Functional imaging of the sleeping brain: Review of findings and implications for the study of insomnia

Sean P.A. Drummond, Michael T. Smith, Henry J. Orff, Vaseem Chengazi, Michael L. Perlis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the growing literature indicating that insomnia is prevalent and a substantial risk factor for medical and psychiatric morbidity, the pathophysiology of both Primary and Secondary Insomnia is poorly understood. Multiple trait and state factors are thought to give rise to and/or moderate illness severity in insomnia, but 'hyperarousal' is widely believed to be the final common pathway of the disorder. To date, very little work has been undertaken using functional imaging to explore the CNS correlates, underpinnings, or consequences of hyperarousal as it occurs in Primary Insomnia. In fact, all but one of the extant studies have been of healthy good sleepers or subjects with Secondary Insomnia. In the present article, we: (1) review the studies that have been undertaken in good sleepers and in patients using functional neuroimaging methodologies, and (2) discuss how these data can inform a research agenda aimed at describing the neuropathophysiology of insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Brain imaging
  • Insomnia
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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