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Free Content Inter- and intra-individual variability in performance near the circadian nadir during sleep deprivation

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The study purpose was to assess inter- and intra-individual variability in neurobehavioral function near the circadian nadir during sleep deprivation and conduct exploratory factor analyses to assess relationships among alertness and performance measures during sleep deprivation. Twenty-five healthy individuals (16 females) aged 18–25 years participated. Participants were sleep deprived for two nights under controlled laboratory conditions using a modified constant routine procedure. A comprehensive battery of neurobehavioral performance tests, subjective sleepiness (SSS), and objective alertness (MWT) were assessed. Seventeen of the 22 neurobehavioral measures were impaired by sleep deprivation (all P < 0.01). The use of multiple neurobehavioral performance measures revealed impairments for all individuals during sleep deprivation. However, sleep deprivation effects were task dependent within and between individuals. Gender contributed minimally to inter-individual variability in performance. Exploratory factor analysis reduced the 22 measures to seven independent factors. Our findings indicate that no individual was especially vulnerable or resistant to the performance impairing effects of sleep deprivation. Instead, inter- and intra-individual variability in performance during sleep deprivation was task dependent. The finding that subjective sleepiness and objective alertness were not related to any performance measure during sleep deprivation suggests that these measures may assess independent brain functions.

Keywords: factor analysis; gender; neurobehavioral performance; performance variability; sleep deprivation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, Department of Integrative Physiology and the Center for Neuroscience, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA 2: Sleep and Psychophysiology Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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