Research on Biomedical Engineering
Research on Biomedical Engineering
Original Article

Neuro-behavioral pattern of sleep bruxism in wakefulness

Marila Rezende Azevedo; Ronaldo Sena; Amanda Medeiros de Freitas; Andrei Nakagawa Silva; Edgard Afonso Lamounier Júnior; Alcimar Barbosa Soares

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Abstract Introduction: Sleep Bruxism (SB) is a non-functional rhythmic movement of the mandible with multifactorial aetiology and complex diagnose. It has been the subject of various studies over the past decades and it is considered a result of actions of the Central Nervous System modulated by Autonomous Nervous System. In this work, we test the hypothesis that SB subjects present a typical and defined neurobehavioral pattern that can be distinct from that of non-bruxers subjects and can be measured during wakefulness.

Methods: Fifteen sleep bruxers (experimental-group EG) and fifteen non-bruxers (control-group CG) took part in the experiments. To verify the presence and severity of SB, clinical examinations, anamneses and questionnaires, including Visual Analogic Scale - faces (VAS-f) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) were applied. To legitimate the diagnoses of SB, a disposable instrument (Bitestrip®) to assess the masseter activity during sleep was employed. All subjects were submitted to a set of experiments for measuring various visual evoked responses during the presentation of visual stimuli (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral images). Events in Visual Evoked Potential (VEP) were used to compare the neural responses of both CG and EG.

Results: VAS-f showed EG with higher perception of stress than CG (trait: p=0.05), and lower quality of life for (state: p=0.007). STAI I and II showed significant differences of anxiety between CG and EG (p=0.013 and p=0.004, respectively), being EG the highest. The EG Bitestrip scores confirmed that 100% of subjects were sleep bruxers. Significant differences were found between EG and CG for events associated with emotional (pleasant and unpleasant) images in the first 250 ms after stimulation. In general, EG subjects showed higher amplitude and shorter latency of VEP events.

Conclusion: It is possible to distinguish between SB and non-bruxers subjects during wakefulness, based on differences in amplitude and latency of cortical event related potentials elicited by visual stimulation. SB subjects show greater amplitudes in specific events in frontal areas when non-pleasant images are shown. Latencies tend to be anticipated in SB compared to CG subjects.


Sleep bruxism, Emotion, EEG, Visual evoked potential, Anxiety, Wakefulness


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