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Sleep Med. 2013 Jun;14(6):542-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Mar 24.

The assessment of vigilance: normative data on the Siesta sustained attention test.

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University Clinic of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.



In several modern society duties individuals have to maintain their attention or vigilance over prolonged periods of time, even if the monitoring task is monotonous. The aim of our study was to obtain reference data on the 60-minute monotonous Siesta sustained attention test.


Normative data were gathered in an age-stratified sample of 234 healthy participants (118 men; 116 women) between the ages of 20 and 79 years. The impact of age, gender, time of day, and time on task during performance was analyzed.


At least 20 participants from each age group and gender group were tested either in the morning or in the afternoon. The sample sizes were only smaller in the age group of 70 to 79 years. There was a notable age effect on all performance measures, with an increase in reaction times and false response rates from the youngest to the oldest group as well as a decrease in correct reactions with increasing age. Statistical analysis revealed no differences in speed and accuracy measures between men and women participants. There was no notable time-of-day effect but a clear impact of time-on-task speed and of correct reactions during the course of the test. The vigilance decrement had already occurred during the first half of the test.


Our results provide a normative database of performance parameters for different age groups in healthy adult participants. As sustained attention is sensitive to sleep loss and nonrestorative sleep, our data can be used as a reference for performance-based assessment of daytime sleepiness in participants with hypersomnia.

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