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Abnormal whole-brain functional connectivity in patients with primary insomnia

Authors Li C, Dong M, Yin Y, Hua K, Fu S, Jiang G

Received 27 November 2016

Accepted for publication 19 December 2016

Published 13 February 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 427—435

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S128811

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Papan Thaipisuttikul

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang


Chao Li, Mengshi Dong, Yi Yin, Kelei Hua, Shishun Fu, Guihua Jiang

Department of Medical Imaging, The Affiliated Guangdong No 2 Provincial People’s Hospital of Southern Medical University, The Third Clinical Medical College of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China


Abstract: The investigation of the mechanism of insomnia could provide the basis for improved understanding and treatment of insomnia. The aim of this study is to investigate the abnormal functional connectivity throughout the entire brain of insomnia patients, and analyze the global distribution of these abnormalities. Whole brains of 50 patients with insomnia and 40 healthy controls were divided into 116 regions and abnormal connectivities were identified by comparing the Pearson’s correlation coefficients of each pair using general linear model analyses with covariates of age, sex, and duration of education. In patients with insomnia, regions that relate to wakefulness, emotion, worry/rumination, saliency/attention, and sensory-motor showed increased positive connectivity with each other; however, regions that often restrain each other, such as regions in salience network with regions in default mode network, showed decreased positive connectivity. Correlation analysis indicated that some increased positive functional connectivity was associated with the Self-Rating Depression Scale, Insomnia Severity Index, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores. According to our findings, increased and decreased positive connectivities suggest function strengthening and function disinhibition, respectively, which offers a parsimonious explanation for the hyperarousal hypothesis in the level of the whole-brain functional connectivity in patients with insomnia.

Keywords: primary insomnia, hyperarousal hypothesis, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging, functional connectivity, whole brain

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