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White Matter Tract Changes in Right Brain in Insomnia

Primary insomnia patients have lower FA values in seven regions in the right brain

WEDNESDAY, April 6, 2016 (HealthDay News) — For patients with primary insomnia, white matter (WM) tract changes are observed in the right brain, according to a study published online April 5 in Radiology.

Shumei Li, from the Guangdong No. 2 Provincial People’s Hospital in Guangzhou, China, and colleagues conducted a prospective study to compare changes in diffusion parameters of WM tracts for 23 primary insomnia patients and 30 healthy controls.

The researchers identified lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in primary insomnia patients, mainly in the right anterior and posterior limbs of the internal capsule, right anterior and superior corona radiata, right superior longitudinal fasciculus, body of the corpus callosum, and right thalamus (P < 0.05). For the seven regions, the receiver operating characteristic areas were acceptable (range, 0.60 to 0.74). There were correlations for abnormal FA values in the thalamus and body corpus callosum with disease duration, self-rating depression scale, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores. There was a possible correlation between reduced FA values and greater radial diffusivity.

“This study showed that WM tracts related to regulation of sleep and wakefulness, and limbic cognitive and sensorimotor regions, are disrupted in the right brain in patients with primary insomnia,” the authors write. “The reduced integrity of these WM tracts may be because of loss of myelination.”

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