The results from the studies of sleep deprivation are providing my lab with an exciting new model for examining global changes in brain function using behavioral studies alongside structural and functional brain imaging methodologies. Sleep deprivation provides a unique model of diffuse brain injury that can be studied within subject in an ABA design. Experimental results have important implications for understanding the brain mechanisms of a host syndromes involving diffuse brain injury, such as: anoxia due to cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and even changes associated with aging.
More recently, we have extended our SD work to examining the role of sleep/circadian rhythm patterns in naturalistic settings on cognition. An examination of the association between chronic sleep restriction and electrocortical arousal in college students (Witkowski, S., Trujillo, L. T., Sherman, S. M., Carter, P., Matthews, M. D., & Schnyer, D. M. (2014)) and mood regulation (Vanderlind, M.W., Beevers, C.G., Sherman, S.M., Trujillo, L.T., McGeary, J.E., Matthews, M.D., Maddox, W.T. & Schnyer, D.M. (2013). Sleep and Sadness: Exploring the Relation among the CLOCK Gene, Sleep, Cognitive Control, and Change in Depression Symptoms. Sleep Medicine. 15 (1), 144-149) in both young and older adults. These studies combine field-based actigraphy recordings over extended periods of time with behavioral and functional imaging measures, as well as sleep/circadian rhythm-associated genetics. The field based recordings have led us to collaborate with individuals in the biomedical engineering and computer science departments here at UT to develop mobile monitoring and intervention applications that utilize real-time sensor data to assess an individual’s cognitive and mood states and push interventions to them through mobile social media platforms.