Professor, Institute of Brain Science, National Yang-Ming University
Professor Kuo’s research interests are in medical engineering, cardiovascular physiology, neurophysiology and sleep medicine. Since 1998, he has created his own computer programs and designed devices for several studies, many of which have received patents and been commercialised. In a 12-month sleep study, he found weak parasympathetic activity with depressive symptoms among male interns, as well as a longer duration of REM sleep during shift work. In Parkinson’s disease, the sympathetic function can be facilitated by the deep brain stimulation of sub-thalamic nucleus. In an animal study, he found that awakenings can be evoked by electrical stimulation of the rostral ventrolateral medulla. Exposing subjects to cold temperatures enlarged the morning blood pressure surge, and this was associated with sympathetic activation during the late-sleep REM sleep. In another animal study, he found that less blood pressure dipping was associated with weak baroreflex sensitivity and the depressed vagal function during quiet sleep, as well as lower sympathetic activity during active sleep. The depressed daytime vagal function was observed among self-reported sleep onset insomniacs; however, the improved objective sleep quality, especially shorter sleep onset latency and increased sleep efficiency, and the enhanced total function of the autonomic nervous system with decreased heart rate after performing the slow breathing exercise before going to bed, which was a useful non-pharmacological therapy for insomnia. Furthermore, the heart rate fluctuation during the sleep-onset period was associated with the lengths of sleep onset latency in sleep-onset insomnia. To determine the effects of ageing on cardiovascular functioning and sleep structure, we found that there was a big watershed at the age of 50. The poor sleep could be contributed by the degenerated autonomic functioning with ageing, moreover, the poor sleep quality after the age of 50 was found to be associated with the higher sympathetic activation.