Montgomery-Downs Lab

Hawley Montgomery-Downs, PhD
Department of Psychology

Our research program attempts to improve health through targeting causes, consequences, and interventions to target sleep disturbance. Two major current questions: What factors influence the trajectory of recovery from postpartum sleep disturbance? What are the effects of prematurity, feeding methods, and secondhand smoke on pediatric sleep-disordered breathing?

Techniques used, and therefore to be learned, by the successful applicant:

We use field-based actigraphy to record sleep/wake patterns and psychomotor vigilance testing to assess sleep-related neurocognitive impairment. In the laboratory, we record standard overnight electrophysiology for clinical polysomnographic assessment. This montage includes cardiovascular measures (respiratory flow and effort, oxyhemeglobin status, ECG), as well as electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and electroculogram (EOG) to identify sleep state. The 2-bed sleep lab is provides state-of-the-art recording capability in a home-like environment.

Significance of this work?

Sleep disturbance and sleep disorders are major health problems – which also cause significant functional and neurocognitive impairment. Determining the factors that contribute to sleep disturbance will help develop interventions to treat and/or prevent them.

Two potential projects:

(1) Evaluate the relation between symptoms and signs of sleep-disordered breathing among prematurely born infants; determine the contributions of second-hand smoke, feeding methods, and inflammatory markers among this vulnerable population.

(2) Evaluate a field-based intervention for improving sleep fragmentation among postpartum women and its effects on neurocognitive functioning.

Montgomery-Downs / Sleep Research Laboratory Activities:
The WVU Sleep Research Team is interested in the developmental psychobiology of sleep and sleep disorders. The 2-bedroom sleep research laboratory is in the Life Sciences Building on WVU’s downtown campus. Our members are part of the Behavioral Neuroscience training program in WVU’s department of psychology. Our research program is currently focused on two key areas described above. For more information about the lab and recent publications, please visit: