Skip navigation
A. Researchers Link Sleep Apnea to Brain Damage

Narrator: This is Science Today. Sleep apnea, which is a stoppage of breathing during sleep, has long been attributed to a narrowed airway caused by enlarged tonsils, a small jaw or obesity. But UCLA scientists have recently linked obstructive sleep apnea to brain damage in areas that regulate breathing and speech. Ronald Harper, a professor of neurobiology, led the study.

Harper: Using magnetic resonance imaging procedures, we examined the structure of the brain in various locations and found that certain areas were smaller in affected patients. Some of these areas were concerned with control of the airway muscles and control of other muscles and particular control of expression of speech.

Narrator: The researchers then serendipitously discovered that nearly forty percent of the patients in their study also stuttered from early childhood.

Harper: The evidence that a speech impediment appears to be associated, with obstructive sleep apnea suggests that perhaps the brain area's contributing to the onset of the syndrome.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.