Sean P. Drummond, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor


Contact Information

3350 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92161
T: (858) 642-1274
F: (858) 458-4201


Dr. Drummond first became fascinated with sleep research when he volunteered as an undergraduate research assistant in the Sleep Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona under the direction of Richard Bootzin, PhD and Michael Perlis, PhD (then a graduate student). After college, he worked with Sarah Mosko, PhD at UC Irvine Medical Center investigating mother-infant co-sleeping. For graduate school, he attended the SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology where he worked with J. Christian Gillin, MD. He completed his Pre-doctoral Internship at the Tucson VA hospital and then returned to UCSD as a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Gregory G. Brown PhD. He joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry in October 2002.

Research Interests

Research Focus

Dr. Drummond's main program of research seeks to understand the impact of sleep and sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, brain function, as well as overall clinical symptoms and quality of life. He conducts both experimental studies and clinical studies.

Typically, his experimental studies manipulate sleep deprivation in healthy adults and measure the consequent cognitive and cerebral changes through behavioral and cognitive testing, functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), and EEG. In addition to experimental studies in young healthy normal control subjects, his work also includes healthy older adults and clinical populations such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. He is interested in a number of cognitive performance domains, particularly learning and memory, executive function, attention, and decision making. The overall goals of this line of work are to: 1) better understand the impact of sleep and sleep loss on cognition; 2) predict individual vulnerability and resiliency to sleep loss; and 3) design interventions to mitigate against the negative effects when sleep deprivation is unavoidable.

A second area of research interest is in the interaction between sleep and substance use/abuse. In the past, this has included sleep patterns during recovery from alcohol dependence. More recently, he has examined a) the effects of medicinal cannabis on sleep in patients with HIV-related neuropathy; and b) the effects of abstinence from cannabis on sleep in adolescent cannabis abusers.

A third major area of research interest examines empirically validated treatments for the insomnia and nightmares, particularly in PTSD patients. One current study examines the added benefit of providing targeted treatment for nightmares and insomnia on top of more standard treatment for the daytime symptoms of PTSD.

Clinical Focus

His clinical interests lie largely in sleep disorders, particularly behavioral sleep medicine. Dr. Drummond has an active clinical role in the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System as the Associate Director of the Cognitive Behavioral Interventions Program. This clinic treats insomnia and nightmares in a variety of patient populations, including PTSD, mood disorders, and primary care patients.


  • Drummond S.P.A., Bischoff-Grethe, A., Dinges, D.F.Ayalon, L., Mednick, C.M., Meloy, M.J. The Neural Basis of the Psychomotor Vigilance Task. SLEEP 2005 28(9):1059-1068.
  • Drummond, S.P.A., Meloy, M.J., Yanagi, M.A., Orff, H.J., Brown, G.G. Compensatory Recruitment after Sleep Deprivation and the Relationship with Performance. Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging. 2005 140(3):211-223.
  • Drummond, S.P.A., Paulus, M.P., Tapert, S.F. Effects of 2 Nights Sleep Deprivation and 2 Nights Recovery Sleep on Response Inhibition. Journal of Sleep Research. 2006 15(3):261-265.
  • Stricker, J.L., Brown, G.G., Wetherell, L.A., Drummond, S.P.A. Sleep Deprivation, Task Difficulty and Brain Connectivity: The Impact of Sleep Deprivation and Task Difficulty on Networks of FMRI Brain Response. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 2006, 12: 591-597.
  • McKenna, B.S, Dickinson, D.L., Orff,H.J., Drummond, S.P.A. The Effects of 24 Hours of Sleep Deprivation on Risky and Ambiguous Decision Making. Journal of Sleep Research. 2007, 16:245-252.
  • Turner, T.H., Drummond, S.P.A., Salamat, J.S., Brown, G.G. Effects of 42-hours Total Sleep Deprivation on Component Processes of Working Memory. Neuropsychology. 2007, 21(6):787-795.
  • Mednick SC, Drummond SP, Arman AC, Boynton GM. Perceptual deterioration is reflected in the neural response: fMRI study of nappers and non-nappers. Perception. 2008;37(7):1086-97.
  • Ayalon L, Ancoli-Israel S, Drummond SP. Altered brain activation during response inhibition in obstructive sleep apnea. Journal Sleep Research. 2009 Jun;18(2):204-8. Epub 2009 Mar 12.
  • Orff HJ, Ayalon L, Drummond SP. Traumatic brain injury and sleep disturbance: a review of current research. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. 2009 May-Jun;24(3):155-65. Review.
  • Cohen-Zion M, Drummond SP, Padula CB, Winward J, Kanady J, Medina KL, Tapert SF. Sleep architecture in adolescent marijuana and alcohol users during acute and extended abstinence. Addictive Behaviors. 2009 Nov;34(11):976-9. Epub 2009 May 23.