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Investigating the Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Startle Response

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Older adults tend to learn at a lesser extent and slower rate than younger individuals. This is especially problematic for older adults at risk to injury or neurological disease who require therapy to learn and relearn motor skills. There is

Older adults tend to learn at a lesser extent and slower rate than younger individuals. This is especially problematic for older adults at risk to injury or neurological disease who require therapy to learn and relearn motor skills. There is evidence that the reticulospinal system is critical to motor learning and that deficits in the reticulospinal system may be responsible, at least in part, for learning deficits in older adults. Specifically, delays in the reticulospinal system (measured via the startle reflex) are related to poor motor learning and retention in older adults. However, the mechanism underlying these delays in the reticulospinal system is currently unknown.

Along with aging, sleep deprivation is correlated with learning deficits. Research has shown that a lack of sleep negatively impacts motor skill learning and consolidation. Since there is a link between sleep and learning, as well as learning and the reticulospinal system, these observations raise the question: does sleep deprivation underlie reticulospinal delays? We hypothesized that sleep deprivation was correlated to a slower startle response, indicating a delayed reticulospinal system. Our objectives were to observe the impact of sleep deprivation on 1) the startle response (characterized by muscle onset latency and percentage of startle responses elicited) and 2) functional performance (to determine whether subjects were sufficiently sleep deprived).

21 young adults participated in two experimental sessions: one control session (8-10 hour time in bed opportunity for at least 3 nights prior) and one sleep deprivation session (0 hour time in bed opportunity for one night prior). The same protocol was conducted during each session. First, subjects were randomly exposed to 15 loud, startling acoustic stimuli of 120 dB. Electromyography (EMG) data measured muscle activity from the left and right sternocleidomastoid (LSCM and RSCM), biceps brachii, and triceps brachii. To assess functional performance, cognitive, balance, and motor tests were also administered. The EMG data were analyzed in MATLAB. A generalized linear mixed model was performed on LSCM and RSCM onset latencies. Paired t-tests were performed on the percentage of startle responses elicited and functional performance metrics. A p-value of less than 0.05 indicated significance.

Thirteen out of 21 participants displayed at least one startle response during their control and sleep deprived sessions and were further analyzed. No differences were found in onset latency (RSCM: control = 75.87 ± 21.94ms, sleep deprived = 82.06 ± 27.47ms; LSCM: control = 79.53 ± 17.85ms, sleep deprived = 78.48 ± 20.75ms) and percentage of startle responses elicited (control = 84.10 ± 15.53%; sleep deprived = 83.59 ± 18.58%) between the two sessions. However, significant differences were observed in reaction time, TUG with Dual time, and average balance time with the right leg up. Our data did not support our hypothesis; no significant differences were seen between subjects’ startle responses during the control and sleep deprived sessions. However, sleep deprivation was indicated with declines were observed in functional performance. Therefore, we concluded that sleep deprivation may not affect the startle response and underlie delays in the reticulospinal system.

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2020-05

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

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Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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Date Created
2016-12