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The effect of sleep restriction on empathy for pain: An fMRI study in younger and older adults
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 7, 12236Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Age and sleep both affect emotional functioning. Since sleep patterns change over the lifespan, we investigated the effects of short sleep and age on empathic responses. In a randomized cross-over experimental design, healthy young and older volunteers (n = 47 aged 20–30 years and n = 39 aged 65–75 years) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) after normal sleep or night sleep restricted to 3 hours. During fMRI, participants viewed pictures of needles pricking a hand (pain) or Q-tips touching a hand (control), a well-established paradigm to investigate empathy for pain. There was no main effect of sleep restriction on empathy. However, age and sleep interacted so that sleep restriction caused increased unpleasantness in older but not in young participants. Irrespective of sleep condition, older participants showed increased activity in angular gyrus, superior temporal sulcus and temporo-parietal junction compared to young. Speculatively, this could indicate that the older individuals adopted a more cognitive approach in response to others’ pain. Our findings suggest that caution in generalizability across age groups is needed in further studies of sleep on social cognition and emotion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 7, 12236
Keyword [en]
ageing, circadian rhythms and sleep, emotion
National Category
Psychology Neurosciences
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-147403DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12098-9ISI: 000411648500010OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-147403DiVA: diva2:1144535
Note

This work was funded by Stockholm Stress Center, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm County Council, Isabella and Henrik Berg and the Heumanska stiftelsen/Hjärnfonden, Fredrik and Ingrid Thuring’s Foundation.

Available from: 2017-09-26 Created: 2017-09-26 Last updated: 2017-10-16Bibliographically approved

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