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Can J Exp Psychol. 2000 Dec;54(4):209-29.

Information processing during sleep onset and sleep.

[Article in English, French]

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  • 1University of Ottawa, USA.


This Special Section examines the extent of information processing during sleep onset and sleep itself. It is generally agreed that, stimulus input is markedly inhibited during sleep, thus preventing conscious awareness of the external environment. Overt behavioural responses are rarely made within sleep. Two neurophysiological measures are therefore often used. The electrical activity of the brain (the EEG) can be employed to distinguish waking (conscious) from sleeping (unconscious) states. It is also possible to quantify the EEG prior to and following a detection (or a failure of a detection) of a stimulus. Such measures can thus be used to predict conscious awareness. A second measure that frequently has been employed is the brain's response to an external stimulus (the evoked potential). Different components of the evoked potential can be used to trace the extent of information processing during the different states of consciousness. Some are associated with a preconscious detection while others are associated with conscious awareness. Other evoked potentials may be unique to sleep.

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