Using REM Sleep Twitches to Detect and Assess Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mark Blumberg from the University of Iowa in the U.S. will develop a method to record and analyze twitching during infant sleep as a non-invasive measure of early brain development. Muscle twitching during REM sleep is known to reflect nervous system function. They hypothesize that it also shapes the developing brain, and could be used to diagnose future neurodevelopmental disorders. They will position miniature accelerometers, which measure physical activity, on the limbs and heads of 16 full-term and 16 preterm infants, and measure the quantity and pattern of muscle twitching biweekly during sleep from age 3-4 months, and then at 6, 9 and 12 months. They will also design analytical tools to interpret the datasets. The goal is a simple, inexpensive, early neurological assessment method that can also be used in low-resource settings.