Increased cerebral blood flow in the right frontal lobe area during sleep precedes self-awakening in humans

Sayaka Aritake*, Shigekazu Higuchi, Hiroyuki Suzuki, Kenichi Kuriyama, Minori Enomoto, Takahiro Soshi, Shingo Kitamura, Akiko Hida, Kazuo Mishima

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Some people can subconsciously wake up naturally (self-awakening) at a desired/planned time without external time stimuli. However, the underlying mechanism regulating this ability remains to be elucidated. This study sought to examine the relationship between hemodynamic changes in oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) level in the prefrontal cortex and sleep structures during sleep in subjects instructed to self-awaken.Results: Fifteen healthy right-handed male volunteers with regular sleep habits participated in a consecutive two-night crossover study. The subjects were instructed to wake up at a specified time (" request" condition) or instructed to sleep until the morning but forced to wake up at 03:00 without prior notice (" surprise" condition). Those who awoke within ± 30 min of the planned waking time were defined as those who succeeded in self-awakening (" success" group). Seven subjects succeeded in self-awakening and eight failed.No significant differences were observed in the amounts of sleep in each stage between conditions or between groups. On the " request" night, an increase in oxy-Hb level in the right prefrontal cortex and a decrease in δ power were observed in the " success" group around 30 min before self-awakening, whereas no such changes were observed in the " failure" group. On the " surprise" night, no significant changes were observed in oxy-Hb level or δ power in either group.Conclusions: These findings demonstrate a correlation between self-awakening and a pre-awakening increase in hemodynamic activation in the right prefrontal cortex, suggesting the structure's contribution to time estimation ability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153
JournalBMC Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 21
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive science
  • Insomnia
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Self-awakening
  • Sleep
  • Time estimation ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)


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