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Chronobiol Int. 2012 Feb;29(1):55-61. doi: 10.3109/07420528.2011.635235.

Effects of sleep loss and circadian rhythm on executive inhibitory control in the Stroop and Simon tasks.

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Department of Psychology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


This study assessed the influence of sleep loss and circadian rhythm on executive inhibitory control (i.e., the ability to inhibit conflicting response tendencies due to irrelevant information). Twelve ordinarily diurnally active, healthy young male participants performed the Stroop and the Simon task every 3 h in a 40-h constant routine protocol that comprised constant wakefulness under controlled behavioral and environmental conditions. In both tasks, overall performance showed clear circadian rhythm and sleep-loss effects. However, both Stroop and Simon interference remained unchanged across the 40 h of wakefulness, suggesting that neither cumulative sleep loss nor the circadian clock affects executive inhibitory control. The present findings challenge the widely held view that executive functions are especially vulnerable to the influence of sleep loss and circadian rhythm.

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