Advances in neuroimaging open up the possibility for new powerful tools to be developed that potentially can be applied to clinical populations to improve the diagnosis of neurological disorders, including sleep disorders. At present, the diagnosis of narcolepsy and primary hypersomnias is largely limited to subjective assessments and objective measurements of behavior and sleep physiology. In this review, we focus on recent neuroimaging findings that provide insight into the neural basis of narcolepsy and the primary hypersomnias Kleine-Levin syndrome and idiopathic hypersomnia. We describe the role of neuroimaging in confirming previous genetic, neurochemical, and neurophysiological findings and highlight studies that permit a greater understanding of the symptoms of these sleep disorders. We conclude by considering some of the remaining challenges to overcome, the existing knowledge gaps, and the potential role for neuroimaging in understanding the pathogenesis and clinical features of narcolepsy and primary hypersomnias.
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