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Sleep spindle activity and psychotic experiences: the mediating roles of attentional performance and perceptual distortions
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  • Mathias Kammerer,
  • Antonia Bott,
  • Felix Strakeljahn,
  • Tania Lincoln
Mathias Kammerer
Universität Hamburg

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Antonia Bott
Universität Hamburg
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Felix Strakeljahn
Universität Hamburg
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Tania Lincoln
Universität Hamburg
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Abstract

Deficits in sleep spindle activity in individuals with psychotic disorders could represent a neurobiological marker of (premorbid) attentional deficits and perceptual distortions that ultimately add to psychotic symptom formation. We analysed the links between sleep spindle activity and psychotic experiences and probed for the mediating roles of attentional performance and self-reported perceptual distortions in a community sample (N=70; mean age 26.33 (SD = 4.84)). Polysomnography was recorded during a 90-minute daytime nap and sleep spindle activity was detected using an automated algorithm. Duration, amplitude, and density from slow (10-13 Hz) and fast (13-16 Hz) sleep spindles were extracted. Attentional performance was assessed via subtests of the Test of Attentional Performance (TAP) and with an antisaccadic eye movement task. Psychotic experiences (i.e., paranoid thoughts; hallucinatory experiences) and perceptual distortions (i.e., anomalous perceptions; sensory gating deficits) were assessed via self-report questionnaires. We conducted sequential mediation analyses with sleep spindle activity as predictor, psychotic experiences as dependent variable, and attentional performance and perceptual distortions as mediators. We found reduced right central slow and fast sleep spindle amplitude to be associated with paranoid thoughts. Increased antisaccadic error rate was associated with anomalous perceptions and perceptual distortions were associated with psychotic experiences. We did not find significant mediation effects. The findings support the notion that reduced sleep spindle activity is involved in psychotic symptom formation and that decreased antisaccadic performance is indicative of perceptual distortions as potential precursors for psychotic experiences. However, further research is needed to corroborate the here proposed mediation hypothesis.