High-density encephalography (HdEEG) is an innovative neurotechnology that allows the non-invasive investigation of neural activity of the entire brain over prolonged periods of time such as an overnight sleep period. Our unique facility allows us to better understand the impact of sleep disturbance on brain processes and cognitive functioning. Using this new technology we conduct the highest international standard of sleep-related neuroscience research and significantly expand knowledge in the sleep research and medicine field.
So far we have investigated sleep in older people with mild cognitive impairment as sleep wake disturbance is a risk factor for developing dementia. We are also undertaking a large study in healthy relatives of people with non-Alzheimer’s dementia to identify new biomarkers of dementia.
Our world-class preliminary data has shown for the first-time how the brain recovers during sleep following treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and our next steps are to explore this response in relation to cognitive changes. This is particularly important in light of the growing evidence linking sleep apnea with accelerated cognitive decline as we get older.
We will lead the discovery of new sleep-related biomarkers of dementia risk, and identify novel targets for therapeutics to improve cognition, mood and quality of life.
Collection of HdEEG generates enormous volumes of data collected from the 256 EEG channels during a full night of sleep. For example, there are 3.77 billion data points for one sleep study recording. Specialised computers are required to process this vast amount of data through the use of super computers and data science expertise. With our new super computing power we have been able to cut the processing time down to a third – from 24 hours to 8 hours – improving efficiencies and enabling our capacity to develop new big data analysis approaches, but as this research program grows, our need to increase efficiencies will also be greatly increased.
Our growing Sleep Neurobiology Research Program extends across our collaborative network of researchers from psychology, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, engineering/IT at the University of Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital, NeuRA as well as national (Flinders University, Adelaide; Monash University, Melbourne; University of Sunshine Coast, QLD); and international collaborators (University of California, Irvine; University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA; Inje University, South Korea; University of Surrey, UK).
This program of research is currently being funded from the CogSleep Centre of Research Excellence as well as two NHMRC Project Grants
Angela D’Rozario, Ron Grunstein, Sharon Naismith, Tancy Kao Glenda Halliday