Significance of circadian rhythms in severely brain-injured patients

Blume, Christine, Lechinger, Julia, Santhi, Nayantara, Giudice, Renata del, Gnjezda, Maria-Teresa, Pichler, Gerald, Scarpatetti, Monika, Donis, Johann, Michitsch, Gabriele and Schabus, Manuel (2017) Significance of circadian rhythms in severely brain-injured patients. Neurology, 88 (20). pp. 1933-1941. ISSN 0028-3878

1933.full.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (760kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Objective: To investigate the relationship between the presence of a circadian body temperature rhythm and behaviorally assessed consciousness levels in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC; i.e., vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome or minimally conscious state).

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, we investigated the presence of circadian temperature rhythms across 6 to 7 days using external skin temperature sensors in 18 patients with DOC. Beyond this, we examined the relationship between behaviorally assessed consciousness levels and circadian rhythmicity.

Results: Analyses with Lomb-Scargle periodograms revealed significant circadian rhythmicity in all patients (range 23.5–26.3 hours). We found that especially scores on the arousal subscale of the Coma Recovery Scale–Revised were closely linked to the integrity of circadian variations in body temperature. Finally, we piloted whether bright light stimulation could boost circadian rhythmicity and found positive evidence in 2 out of 8 patients.

Conclusion: The study provides evidence for an association between circadian body temperature rhythms and arousal as a necessary precondition for consciousness. Our findings also make a case for circadian rhythms as a target for treatment as well as the application of diagnostic and therapeutic means at times when cognitive performance is expected to peak.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2020 13:44
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 20:04

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics