Send to

Choose Destination
Behav Neurosci. 2008 Apr;122(2):267-72. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.122.2.267.

Sleep-dependent learning and practice-dependent deterioration in an orientation discrimination task.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, Research Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System, USA.


Learning new information requires practice. The degree of learning can be influenced by the amount of practice and whether subjects sleep between sessions. Over-practice, however, can lead to performance deterioration. The interaction between practice-dependent deterioration and sleep-dependent learning needs more study. We examine whether the amount of practice before sleep alters learning, and whether prior sleep protects against deterioration. Two groups (N = 33) were tested three times across two days on an orientation discrimination task. The High practice group was tested twice before a night of sleep and once after, at 9 a.m., 7 p.m., and 9 a.m. The Low practice group was tested once before a night of sleep and twice after, at 7 p.m., 9 a.m., and 7 p.m. Overall, both groups showed (1) deterioration with repeated, within-day testing, (2) performance improvement only after a night of sleep, (3) similar amounts of sleep-dependent learning and practice-dependent deterioration. In summary, we found that sleep resets visual contrast thresholds to a lower baseline (i.e., produces learning), but does not prevent over-practice deterioration effects. Likewise, over-practice deterioration does not influence the magnitude of overnight learning on this task.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center