Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, MSc

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 
Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry

Curriculum vitae
Research Interests
Selected Publications

Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, MScEpi is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is Director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology. Dr. Basner received his degree in Medicine and his PhD in Research from the University of Bochum, Germany and his Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Bielefeld, Germany. Dr. Basner trained at the Institute for Applied Physiology at the University of Bochum and worked as a Research Associate at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Flight Physiology Division from 1999 until 2006 before moving to the United States to pursue his research interests in the neurobehavioral consequences of sleep loss as a Research Associate. He returned to DLR in 2008 to head the Flight Physiology Division for two years. In January 2010, Dr. Basner assumed the position of Assistant Professor of Sleep and Chronobiology in Psychiatry and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2015 and to Full Professor in 2020. He was appointed Director of the Behavioral Regulation and Health Section of the Department of Psychiatry in 2019.

Dr. Basner's primary research interests concern the effects of sleep loss on neurobehavioral and cognitive functions, population studies on sleep time and waking activities, the effects of noise on sleep and health, and Astronaut behavioral health on long-duration space missions. These research areas overlap widely. Dr. Basner has published 100 original research articles and, 16 reviews and he reviewed articles for more than 90+ scientific journals. He is currently Senior Associate Editor for the journal Sleep Health and on the Editorial Board of the journal Frontiers in Physiology.

Research Interests

Noise Effects Research

Between 1999 and 2008, Dr. Basner conducted several large scale laboratory and field studies on the effects of traffic noise on sleep at the German Aerospace Center. For this research, Dr. Basner was awarded the German Aerospace Center Research Award in 2007 and the Science Award of the German Academy for Aviation and Travel Medicine in 2010. Dr. Basner developed an ECG-based algorithm for the automatic identification of autonomic activations associated with cortical arousal that was used in several field studies to non-invasively assess the effects of aircraft noise on sleep. He is currently funded by FAA to obtain current exposure-response functions describing the effects of aircraft noise on sleep for the United States. Dr. Basner has been an advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the effects of traffic noise on sleep and health on a number of occasions. He performed a systematic evidence review on the effects of noise on sleep for the recently published revision of WHO’s Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region. Dr. Basner is currently President of the International Commission of Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) and member of the Impacts and Science Group of the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He also represents the University of Pennsylvania in FAA’s Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT). Dr. Basner wrote editorials for Deutsches Ärzteblatt (in 2016 and 2019) and for the Journal of the American Heart Association on articles on the effects of traffic noise on health. In 2018, Dr. Basner was invited to give a TEDMED talk on the health effects of noise. Dr. Basner served as an advisor on an NSF-funded project titled “Developing the Processes and Potential to Engage Historically Underrepresented Communities in Public Participation in STEM Research Through Authentic and Impactful Collaboration” (NOISE Project). Podcasts on noise effects research that feature Dr. Basner include the United States Green Building Council Podcast “Built for Health: Acoustics and Sounds”;  99% Invisible Podcast “Sound and Health: Cities”; Futureproof Podcast by Jonathan McCrea “Futureproof Gold: Why Noise is Bad for You”; and This Is Your Brain with Dr. Phil Stieg Podcast “How noise affects our brains”. Dr. Basner is also featured on NPR's "the pulse" episode "Noise Annoys".   

Sleep Research

Dr. Basner participated in several studies on the effects of acute and chronic sleep loss on neurobehavioral functions performed at the University of Pennsylvania. Together with David F. Dinges, he developed both a short version and an adaptive version of the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), identified the most sensitive outcome metrics of the PVT, developed new sensitive metrics, and showed that the PVT is indeed free of practice effects. Dr. Basner is also interested in how different work schedules affect sleep and performance. He participated in several large observational studies, intervention studies, and clinical trials investigating the effects of extended overnight shifts and protected sleep periods on sleep duration, sleepiness, and alertness of medical interns. In 2013 and 2014, he was a member of a Transportation Research Board of the National Academies committee studying FAA Air Traffic Controller staffing levels. Finally, Dr. Basner publishes frequently on the relationship between sleep time and waking activities using the publicly available American Time Use Survey (ATUS). He found a positive trend in sleep duration between 2003 and 2014 using ATUS data, which can likely be explained by a greater awareness of the importance of sufficient sleep in the population and by more online opportunities to shop, work, bank, and take classes from home. In the most recent ATUS analyses, Dr. Basner investigated the relationship between time spent exercising and sleeping and showed that these healthy behaviors are competing for time. Dr. Basner was part of an AASM panel that determined guiding principles for determining work shift duration and addressing the effects of work shift duration on performance, safety, and health.  An interview with Dr. Basner on “Sleep & Neurocognitive Performance” was featured in the journal Practical Neurology. Dr. Basner is member of the Sleep Research Society (SRS), he was Deputy Editor of the journal SLEEP, and he is currently Senior Associate Editor for the journal Sleep Health. Podcasts on sleep research that feature Dr. Basner include Live Long and Master Aging Podcast “Improving sleep hygiene for better health” and Unmessable Podcast by Tanya Privé “How To Boost Your Performance at Work and in Life, According to Science”.

Astronaut Behavioral Health Research

Dr. Basner developed, together with his colleagues Dr. David F. Dinges and Dr. Ruben C. Gur and with collaborators from Pulsar Informatics Inc., the Cognition test battery for spaceflight. This development was funded by both NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI). Cognition consists of 10 brief, validated cognitive tests that cover a range of cognitive domains. The tests were specifically designed for the high-performing Astronaut population. Brain regions primarily recruited by the individual test have been established with fMRI. The Cognition battery is part of NASA’s Behavioral Health and Performance Standard Measures, a set of measures that is routinely performed by all astronauts on ISS missions and by research subjects in space analog environments. In 2018, Dr. Basner was awarded the International Space Station Innovation Award for Cognition by the American Astronautical Society. In 2016, the original paper describing Cognition received the Journal Publication Award for the Most Outstanding Space Medicine Article published in the Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance Journal by the Space Medicine Association. Dr. Basner performed several studies on the International Space Station and in space analog environments including NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), the Russian Mars500 simulated mission to Mars, and the Antarctic research stations Concordia, Neumayer III, and Halley. Dr. Basner was one of the 10 selected principal investigators of NASA’s TWINS study, in which Scott Kelly spent 340 days in space while his twin brother Mark Kelly, also a retired Astronaut, was investigated on Earth. In this interdisciplinary research project that spanned from molecular mechanisms to physiology and behavior, Dr. Basner was responsible for assessing cognitive performance in the twins. Dr. Basner’s project “Neurostructural and Cognitive Changes During Long Duration Low-Earth Orbit Missions: Cognition” was recently selected as one of 14 international projects to investigate the effects of long-duration spaceflight on 10 more astronauts. Dr. Basner was also one of 5 TRISH-funded investigators who participated in SpaceX’s historic all-commercial crew mission (Inspiration 4), where he investigated changes in cognitive performance and crew physiology in relation to the spacecraft environment. Dr. Basner is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and a member of the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA). Podcasts on astronaut behavioral health research that feature Dr. Basner include the Exploration Medicine Podcast “Living in isolated, confined, and extreme environments for exploration-type space missions”; This Is Your Brain With Dr. Phil Stieg Podcast “The risks of long-term space travel”; and Quirks & Quarks podcast of CBC Radio Canada “Microgravity on a trip to Mars might leave astronauts emotionally impaired”.

“Odd” Projects

Dr. Basner sometimes engages in projects that could be considered “odd”, but always have the goal to highlight scientific principles. In 2010, Dr. Basner published a manuscript titled “Arousal threshold determination in 1862: Kohlschütter’s Measurements on the Firmness of Sleep” in the journal Sleep Medicine. Ernst Kohlschütter was the first to systematically use sounds of varying intensity he generated with a pendular hammer hitting a thick slate slab to investigate the depth of sleep. Dr. Basner re-analyzed Kohlschütter’s raw data with modern regression techniques and compared them with a study on the effects of aircraft noise on sleep in 128 subjects.

Dr. Basner and his family systematically scored positive and negative friendship deeds across all 236 episodes of the TV series Friends and found that Joey was the best Friend, closely followed by Ross. The analysis was published in Significance, a magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association. Here, Dr. Basner concludes: “Many of our decisions and views are governed by gut feelings, with very limited understanding of and control over what constitutes those feelings. Gut feelings are important and have served us (mostly) well on our evolutionary journey. However, they can also be misleading. Therefore, it can be helpful to identify a quantitative approach for a problem and gather the necessary data in a way that minimises bias. The data may reveal aspects of the outcome of interest that are inaccessible by other techniques (like opinion polls). Importantly, the data generated can be objectively scrutinised by others, and thus become the basis of further discussion and informed decision making.” This analysis was also featured in a Stats + Stories Podcast.

Together with colleagues from WSU, Dr. Basner published an Editorial in the journal Sleep Health titled “Seasonal night-work with extended hours and transmeridian travel: An analysis of global fatigue-related sleigh crash risk analysis”. Santa Claus’ delivery route was extracted from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and it was determined that sleigh crash risk was highest over North America. While fun is a big part of the article, it highlights many principles of fatigue risk management systems that are important for mitigating the risks of duty schedules that include extended work periods or rotating shifts.


A complete list of Dr. Basner's publications can be found in his CV and here. A few selected publications are listed below.

Jones, C.W., Basner, M., Mollicone, D.J., Mott, C.M., Dinges, D.F.: Sleep deficiency in spaceflight is associated with degraded neurobehavioral functions and elevated stress in astronauts on six-month missions aboard the International Space Station. Sleep, zsac006, 2022. PMID: 35023565

Smith, M.G., Younes, M., Aeschbach, D., Elmenhorst, E.-M., Müller, U., Basner, M.: Traffic noise-induced changes in wake-propensity measured with the Odds-Ratio Product (ORP) reveal dynamic changes in sleep depth and stability, Science of the Total Environment, 805(2022), 150191, 2021. PMID: 34818802

Mashour, G.A., Palanca, B.J., Basner, M., Li, D., Wang, W., Blain-Moraes, S., Lin, N., Maier, K., Muench, M., Tarnal, V., Vanini, G., Ochroch, E. A., Hogg, R., Schwartz, M., Maybrier, H., Hardie, R., Janke, E., Golmirzaie, G., Picton, P., McKinstry-Wu, A.R., Avidan, M.S., Kelz, M.B.: Recovery of consciousness and cognition after general anesthesia in humans. eLife, 10, e59525, 2021. PMID: 33970101

Smith, M.G., Wusk, G.C., Nasrini, J., Baskin, P., Dinges, D.F., Roma, P.G., Basner, M.: Effects of six weeks of chronic sleep restriction with weekend recovery on cognitive performance and wellbeing in high-performing adults. Sleep, 44(8), zsab051, 2021. PMID: 33630069

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F., Howard, K., Moore, T.M., Gur, R.C., Mühl, C., Stahn, A.C.: Continuous and intermittent artificial gravity as a countermeasure to the cognitive effects of 60 days of head-down tilt bed rest. Frontiers in Physiology, 12(643854), 1-14, 2021. PMID: 33815148

Riedy, S., Smith, M.G., Rocha, S., Basner, M.: Noise as a sleep aid: a systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 55, 101385, 2021. PMID: 33007706

Basner, M., Hermosillo, E., Nasrini, J., Dinges, D.F., Moore, T.M., Gur, R.C.: Cognition test battery: adjusting for practice and stimulus set effects for varying administration intervals in high performing individuals. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 42(5), 516-529, 2020. PMID: 32539487

Basner, M., Witte, M., McGuire, S.: Aircraft noise effects on sleep - results of a pilot study near Philadelphia international airport. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(17), 3178, 2019. PMID: 31480420

Garrett-Bakelman, F.E. et al.: The NASA Twins Study: A multi-dimensional analysis of a year-long human spaceflight. Science, 364(6436), 2019. PMID: 30975860

Basner, M., Asch, D.A., Shea, J.A., Bellini, L.M., et al., on behalf of the iCOMPARE Research Group: Sleep and alertness in a duty-hour flexibility trial in Internal Medicine. New England Journal of Medicine, 380(10), 915-924, 2019. PMID: 30855741

Basner, M., McGuire, S.: WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region: A systematic review on environmental noise and effects on sleep. International Journal for Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(3): 1-45, 2018. PMID: 29538344

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F.: Sleep duration in the United States 2003–2016: first signs of success in the fight against sleep deficiency? Sleep 41(2), zsy012, 1-16, 2018. PMID: 29325164

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F., Shea, J.A., Small, D.S., Zhu, J., Norton, L., Ecker, A.J., Novak, C., Bellini, L.M., Volpp, K.G.: Sleep and alertness in medical interns and residents: an observational study on the role of extended shifts. Sleep 40(4): zsx027, 1-8, 2017. PMID: 28329124

Basner, M., Savitt, A., Moore, T.M., Port, A.M., McGuire, S., Ecker, A.J., Nasrini, J., Mollicone, D.J., Mott, C.M., McCann, C., Dinges, D.F., Gur, R.C.: Development and validation of the Cognition test battery for spaceflight. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance 86(11): 942-52, 2015. PMID: 26564759

Basner, M., Babisch, W., Davis, A., Brink, M., Clark, C., Janssen, S., Stansfeld, S.: Auditory and non-auditory effects of noise on health. The Lancet, 383(9925): 1325-1332, 2014. PMID: 24183105

Münzel, T., Gori, T., Babisch, W., Basner, M.: Cardiovascular effects of environmental noise exposure. European Heart Journal, 35(13): 829-36, 2014. PMID: 24616334

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F., Mollicone, D.J., Savelev, I., Ecker, A.J., Di Antonio, A., Jones, C.W., Hyder, E., Kan, K., Morukov, B.V., Sutton, J.P.: Psychological and behavioral changes during confinement in a 520-day simulated interplanetary mission to Mars. PLoS One 9(3): e93298, 2014. PMID: 24675720

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F., Mollicone, D.J., Ecker, A.J., Jones, C.W., Hyder, E.C., Di Antonio, A., Savelev, I., Kan, K., Goel, N., Morukov, B.V., Sutton, J.P.: Mars 520-day mission simulation reveals protracted crew hypokinesis and alterations of sleep duration and timing. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science 110(7): 2635-2640, 2013. PMID: 23297197

Basner, M., Rao, H., Goel, N., Dinges, D.F.: Sleep deprivation and neurobehavioral dynamics. Current Opinions in Neurobiology, 23(5): 854–863, 2013. PMID: 23523374

Basner, M., Mollicone, D.M., Dinges, D.F.: Validity and sensitivity of a brief psychomotor vigilance test (PVT-B) to total and partial sleep deprivation. Acta Astronautica 69: 949-959, 2011. PMID: 22025811

Basner, M., Dinges, D.F.: Maximizing sensitivity of the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) to sleep loss. Sleep 34(5): 581-591, 2011. PMID: 21532951

Basner, M., Müller, U., Elmenhorst, E.-M.: Single and combined effect of air, road, and rail traffic noise on sleep and recuperation. Sleep 34(1):11-23, 2011. PMID: 21203365

Basner, M., Griefahn, B., Müller, U., Plath, G., Samel, A.: An ECG-based algorithm for the automatic identification of autonomic activations associated with cortical arousals. Sleep 30(10), 1349-1361, 2007. PMID: 17969469

Basner, M., Fomberstein, K.M., Razavi, F.M., Banks, S., William, J.H., Rosa, R.R., Dinges, D.F.: American Time Use Survey: Sleep time and its relationship to waking activities. Sleep 30(9), 1085-1095, 2007. PMID: 17910380

Basner, M., Isermann, U., Samel, A.: Aircraft noise effects on sleep: application of the results of a large polysomnographic field study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119(5), 2772-2784, 2006. PMID: 16708935

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