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BACKGROUND: Psychological models highlight the bidirectional role of self-referential processing, introspection, worry and rumination in the development and maintenance of insomnia; however, little is known about the underlying neural substrates. Default mode network (DMN) functional connectivity has been previously linked to these cognitive processes. METHODS: We used fMRI to investigate waking DMN functional connectivity in a well-characterized sample of patients with primary insomnia (PI) and good sleeper controls. RESULTS: We included 20 patients with PI (8 men and 12 women, mean age 42.7 ± 13.4 yr) and 20 controls (8 men and 12 women, mean age 44.1 ± 10.6 yr) in our study. While no between-group differences in waking DMN connectivity were observed, exploratory analyses across all participants suggested that greater waking connectivity between the retrosplenial cortex/hippocampus and various nodes of the DMN was associated with lower sleep efficiency, lower amounts of rapid eye movement sleep and greater sleep-onset latency. LIMITATIONS: Owing to the cross-sectional nature of the study, conclusions about causality cannot be drawn. CONCLUSION: As sleep disturbances represent a transdiagnostic symptom that is characteristic of nearly all psychiatric disorders, our results may hold particular relevance to previous findings of increased DMN connectivity levels in patients with psychiatric disorders.

Original publication

DOI

10.1503/jpn.140290

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Psychiatry Neurosci

Publication Date

08/2016

Volume

41

Pages

295 - 303