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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Nov;25(5 Suppl):S68-73.

The effects of total sleep deprivation on cerebral responses to cognitive performance.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego and San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego, CA 92161, USA.


We review the findings from a study utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to examine the effects of total sleep deprivation (TSD) on verbal learning, arithmetic, and divided attention. For verbal learning and divided attention, TSD was associated with increased activation in the bilateral prefrontal cortex and parietal lobes. Increased sleepiness after TSD and lower levels of memory impairment were correlated with increased activation in specific regions of the prefrontal cortex and parietal lobes, respectively. The arithmetic task led to significantly decreased activation in the bilateral prefrontal cortex and parietal lobes. Based on this and other data, we hypothesize an adaptive cerebral response during cognitive performance following TSD with the specific pattern of adaptation depending on the specific cognitive processes performed. We discuss the need to test the hypothesis in a variety of ways.

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