Cognitive functions may be altered in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) and it has been proposed that vigilance and attention changes play a fundamental role in all aspects of cognitive defi cits noted in this disease. The use of event-related potentials (ERPs) is a high-time resolution technique that can be used to explore the presence of cognitive dysfunction. We review 23 empirical articles on ERPs in OSAS in order to contribute to the clarifi cation of the pattern of cognitive defi cits that are specifi c to this disease and to see whether there might be an improvement of abnormal psychophysiological fi ndings with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. We conclude that ERP studies have contributed to demonstrating changes in cognitive attentive processing in OSAS, mainly in association with altered functioning of the prefrontal cortex, and that CPAP treatment may improve vigilance and attention and generally improve cerebral information processing in these patients. The remaining defi cits during suffi cient CPAP therapy may, however, refl ect irreversible hypoxic cerebral damage.
- Cognitive defi cit
- Continuous positive airway pressure treatment
- Event-related potentials
- Information processing
- Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
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