Effect of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Neurocognitive Performance

Gilbert Seda*, Tony S. Han

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This article reviews the effects of obstructive sleep apnea on neurocognitive performance, proposed mechanisms of cognitive impairment, and the effects of continuous positive airway pressure on performance. Obstructive sleep apnea can affect several domains of neurocognitive performance to include attention and vigilance, memory and learning, psychomotor function, emotional regulation, and executive function. Proposed mechanisms include intermittent hypoxemia, sleep deprivation and fragmentation, hypercapnia, and disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis. Continuous positive airway pressure can improve cognitive defects associated with obstructive sleep apnea. More data are needed to determine whether other therapies improve cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine Clinics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • Executive functioning
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Neurocognitive performance
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Psychomotor function


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