CURE Epilepsy Award

Implication of the Pedunculopontine Nucleus in Comorbid Sleep Disorders

Annaelle Devergnas, PhD
Emory University

Sleep is critical for our well-being. Too little, fragmented, or poorly structured sleep negatively impacts daytime function. While it has been known for years that sleep quality and epilepsy are interconnected, the mechanisms are still unclear. A brain structure called the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) is known to control arousal and regulation of rapid eye movement. The hypothesis for this project is that frontal seizures disrupt the normal function of the PPN, leading to changes in sleep, and that manipulating PPN activity might restore normal sleep activity. This study will be performed in a non-human primate model that shows similar sleep disruptions and has similar anatomy in the PPN as seen in humans.  

A better understanding of the neural circuits involved in epilepsy-related sleep disorders is necessary to develop new therapies that will improve care for people with epilepsy.