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RH Presentation on Microsleeps

AOARD Window on Science (WOS) presentation by Richard Jones

Director, Christchurch Neurotechnology Research Programme
New Zealand Brain Research Institute
University of Canterbury; University of Otago; Canterbury District
Health Board
Christchurch, NEW ZEALAND

Location: RH Building 190, second floor conference room (#224)

Date: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time: 1400-1600 (presentation the first hour follow by Q/A and
discussions)

Title: Microsleeps: What are they? Are they dangerous? Are they
preventable?

Abstract:

Lapses of responsiveness (‘lapses’) are complete transient disruptions
in performance. They can be a surprisingly frequent phenomenon in
healthy subjects – even when not sleep-deprived – and particularly so
when engaged in extended monotonous tasks. They are of particular
importance in the transport, military, and medical sectors in which
there is a need to maintain sustained attention for extended periods and
in which lapses can lead to multiple-fatality accidents.

Lapses can be broadly divided into four main types:

* Sleep events (> 15 s).
* Behavioural microsleeps (~0.5-15 s) – Brief loss of consciousness,
with clear behavioural indications of drowsiness.
* Lapses of sustained attention – Not directly related to level of
arousal and can occur when alert, fatigued, or drowsy.
* Lapses of task-orientated attention – i.e., diverted attention.

Our primary focus is on microsleeps, with contributions covering aspects
of behavioural detection and characterization, EEG-based
characterization and detection, and determination of the underlying
mechanisms in the brain via simultaneous recordings of whole-brain BOLD
fMRI, 64-channel EEG, eye video, and EOG, while performing a continuous
2-D visuomotor tracking task. We are also using MRI-based arterial spin
labelling to investigate changes in cerebral perfusion in healthy
individuals with different vulnerabilities to sleep restriction.

In addition to improving our understanding of what happens in the brain
during microsleeps, a primary aim is use this improved knowledge of the
spatiotemporal dynamics of microsleeps to substantially improve the
early detection, and even prediction, of microsleeps and to use this in
the development of wearable lapse detection & early-warning devices able
to prevent injurious/fatal/multi-fatality accidents.

My talk will (i) provide an introduction to lapses, (ii) overview their
importance in the real world, (iii) overview some of the key findings
from our research studies on microsleeps, and (iv) summarize some of the
remaining challenges in this fascinating and important area.

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