WASHINGTON, D.C.— The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Patrick L. Purdon, Ph.D., Associate Bioengineer, Massachusetts General Hospital; Assistant Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Purdon was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows For outstanding contributions in biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and anesthesiology that will allow precise and accurate monitoring of brain states during anesthesia.
Investigators at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have developed a system to accurately track the dynamic process of falling asleep, something that has not been possible with existing techniques.
In their report in the October issue of the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology, the research team described how combining key physiologic measurements with a non-disruptive behavioral task gave them a better picture of the gradual process of falling asleep. In addition to being a powerful tool for future research, the system could provide new insight into diagnosing and understanding sleep disorders.
“While our personal experience tells us that falling asleep is a gradual process, current clinical methods only define a single point in time at which one has fallen asleep,” said lead author Michael Prerau of the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Management. “Our new research shows that it’s not simply when you fall asleep that’s important, it’s how you fall asleep that really matters. We now have the power to chart the entire trajectory of your neurological, physiological, and behavioral activity as you transition from wake to asleep, rather than simply reporting the time it takes.”
The new method continuously estimates the degree to which an individual is awake at each point during the sleep-onset process. “This is a real paradigm-shift in the way we study sleep onset,” said Patrick Purdon, MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Management, the senior author of the study. “By quantifying the dynamic changes in brain activity and behavior during the transition from wakefulness to sleep, we now have a rigorous framework with which to study disorders of sleep onset, such as insomnia or narcolepsy.”