Enhanced Visual Cortex Activation in People With Narcolepsy Type 1 During Active Sleep Resistance: An fMRI-EEG Study

Jari K. Gool, Rolf Fronczek, Peter Bosma, Johan N. van der Meer, Ysbrand D. van der Werf, Gert Jan Lammers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The brain activation patterns related to sleep resistance remain to be discovered in health and disease. The maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT) is an objective neuropsychological assessment often used to assess an individual’s ability to resist sleep. It is frequently used in narcolepsy type 1, a disorder characterized by impaired sleep-wake control and the inability to resist daytime sleep. We investigated the neural correlates of active sleep resistance in 12 drug-free people with narcolepsy type 1 and 12 healthy controls. Simultaneous fMRI-EEG measurements were recorded during five cycles of two alternating conditions of active sleep resistance and waking rest. Cleaned EEG signals were used to verify wakefulness and task adherence. Pooling both subject groups, significantly higher fMRI activation when actively resisting sleep was seen in the brainstem, superior cerebellum, bilateral thalamus and visual cortices. In controls the activation clusters were generally smaller compared to patients and no significant activation was seen in the brainstem. Formal comparison between groups only found a significantly higher left primary visual cortex activation in patients during active sleep resistance. The active sleep resistance paradigm is a feasible fMRI task to study sleep resistance and induces evident arousal- and visual-related activity. Significantly higher left primary visual cortical activation in patients could be caused by an enhanced need of visual focus to resist sleep, or reflecting a more rapid descent in their level of alertness when resting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number904820
JournalFrontiers in neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2022


  • central disorders of hypersomnolence
  • fMRI
  • hypocretin
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT)
  • narcolepsy
  • sleep resistance

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