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Keywords:

  • Event-related potentials;
  • Sleepiness;
  • Sleep;
  • Behavioral responsiveness

Abstract

Event-related potentials (ERPs) following infrequent and frequent stimuli were studied as subjects moved from wakefulness to sleep. Subjects were instructed to respond to the infrequent “target” stimuli (attend condition) or to ignore the stimuli (ignore condition). Parietal P300, prominent following target ERPs in wakefulness under the attend condition, disappeared in association with reduced behavioral responsiveness and emergence of a central negativity (N350). The N350 and preceding and following positivities (P220 and P450) became the dominant feature of both target and nontarget ERPs under both attend and ignore conditions. The P220-N350-P450 complex was larger and peak latencies were shorter under the attend condition. Peak amplitudes tended to be larger following targets, especially under the attend condition. The findings suggest that, although the processes under-lying P300 are less likely to be engaged, processing of stimulus deviance and task relevance continues in sleepiness and sleep, and is reflected by variance in N350 and related activity.