The research team examined how PD patients with and without sleep apnea, a condition where the airway is obstructed and blood oxygen levels decline during sleep, performed on working memory tests after a nights’ rest. The patients without sleep apnea performed better on the tests, and PD patients also taking dopamine-enhancing medications had improved outcomes over those not taking the medications. For more information about the study, including comments form the first author, postdoctoral fellow Michael Scullin, please visit: http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/08/sleep_improves_working_memory_in_PD/campus.html.
The findings underline the importance of addressing sleep disorders in the care of patients with Parkinson’s, and indicate that working memory capacity in patients with Parkinson’s potentially can be improved with training. The results also have implications for the biology of sleep and memory. The results were published this week in the journal Brain.