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In collaboration with her dissertation chairperson, Dr. Omar Alhassoon, and her co-mentor Dr. Sean Drummond from the University of California, San Diego; Dr. Erin Almklov, a recent graduate of CSPP San Diego and a post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth College has published her dissertation entitled “The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain Functioning in Older Adults” in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine. The authors, Drs. Almklov, Drummond, Orff, and Alhassoon studied two cognitive processes essential for everyday functioning; namely sustained attention and response inhibition. They examined brain responses to tasks using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Since older adults often function in sleep deprived states, the researchers were interested in exploring the brain mechanism that allows such individuals to perform complex cognitive tasks. The results indicate that in order for sleep deprived elderly to perform cognitive tasks effectively, they rely on compensatory recruitment of brain regions not typically recruited in non-sleep-deprived states. This response may represent a form of resiliency that protects healthy older adults from the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance.

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