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Free Content Event‐related activity and phase locking during a psychomotor vigilance task over the course of sleep deprivation

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There is profound knowledge that sleep restriction increases tonic (event‐unrelated) electroencephalographic (EEG) activity. In the present study we focused on time‐locked activity by means of phasic (event‐related) EEG analysis during a psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) over the course of sleep deprivation. Twenty healthy subjects (10 male; mean age ± SD: 23.45 ± 1.97 years) underwent sleep deprivation for 24 h. Subjects had to rate their sleepiness hourly (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale) and to perform a PVT while EEG was recorded simultaneously. Tonic EEG changes in the δ (1–4 Hz),  (4–8 Hz) and α (8–12 Hz) frequency range were investigated by power spectral analyses. Single‐trial (phase‐locking index, PLI) and event‐related potential (ERP) analyses (P1, N1) were used to examine event‐related changes in EEG activity. Subjective sleepiness, PVT reaction times and tonic EEG activity (delta and theta spectral power) significantly increased over the night. In contrast, event‐related EEG parameters decreased throughout sleep deprivation. Specifically, the ERP component P1 diminished in amplitude, and delta and theta PLI estimates decreased progressively over the night. It is suggested that event‐related EEG measures (such as the amplitude of the P1 and especially delta/theta phase‐locking) serve as a complimentary method to track the deterioration of attention and performance during sleep loss. As these measures actually reflect the impaired response to specific events rather than tonic changes during sleep deprivation they are a promising tool for future sleep research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory for Sleep and Consciousness Research, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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