Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition

Sleep deprivation is commonplace in modern society, but its far-reaching effects on cognitive performance are only beginning to be understood from a scientific perspective

William D.S. Killgore

2010

Scholarcy highlights

  • Sleep deprivation is commonplace in modern society, but its far-reaching effects on cognitive performance are only beginning to be understood from a scientific perspective
  • Neuroimaging evidence has implicated the prefrontal cortex as a brain region that may be susceptible to the effects of sleep loss, but perplexingly, executive function tasks that putatively measure prefrontal functioning have yielded inconsistent findings within the context of sleep deprivation
  • Emerging evidence suggests that some aspects of higher level cognitive capacities remain degraded by sleep deprivation despite restoration of alertness and vigilance with stimulant countermeasures, suggesting that sleep loss may affect specific cognitive systems above and beyond the effects produced by global cognitive declines or impaired attentional processes
  • The extent to which sleep deprivation affects a particular cognitive process may depend on several factors, including the magnitude of global decline in general alertness and attention, the degree to which the specific cognitive function depends on emotion-processing networks, and the extent to which that cognitive process can draw upon associated cortical regions for compensatory support

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