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Keywords:

  • executive function;
  • performance;
  • prefrontal cortex;
  • Six Elements Test;
  • sleep deprivation;
  • working memory

Summary

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is affected negatively by sleep deprivation (SD) and executive functioning is largely dependent on activity in the PFC. Earlier studies have focused on subsystems of executive functioning, and tests of executive functioning have shown both low reliability and low validity. In the present study, 11 healthy volunteers were sleep deprived and compared with 11 healthy controls in a study on effects of one night's SD on integrative executive functioning. Following SD, the performance of subjects on an ecologically valid test, the modified Six Elements Test, was significantly impaired. There were no group differences on psychomotor vigilance, verbal or visuo-spatial working memory. This extends previous knowledge of performance effects of SD, and may be of special importance for individuals with cognitive work tasks.