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Cereb Cortex. 2015 Nov;25(11):4610-8. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv115. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

Deprivation and Recovery of Sleep in Succession Enhances Reflexive Motor Behavior.

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Department of Neurology, University Luebeck, D-23538 Luebeck, Germany.
Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology and Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tuebingen, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany.
Department of Neurology, University Luebeck, D-23538 Luebeck, Germany Schwarzwald-Baar Klinikum, D-78052 Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany Department of Neurology, University Freiburg, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany.


Sleep deprivation impairs inhibitory control over reflexive behavior, and this impairment is commonly assumed to dissipate after recovery sleep. Contrary to this belief, here we show that fast reflexive behaviors, when practiced during sleep deprivation, is consolidated across recovery sleep and, thereby, becomes preserved. As a model for the study of sleep effects on prefrontal cortex-mediated inhibitory control in humans, we examined reflexive saccadic eye movements (express saccades), as well as speeded 2-choice finger motor responses. Different groups of subjects were trained on a standard prosaccade gap paradigm before periods of nocturnal sleep and sleep deprivation. Saccade performance was retested in the next morning and again 24 h later. The rate of express saccades was not affected by sleep after training, but slightly increased after sleep deprivation. Surprisingly, this increase augmented even further after recovery sleep and was still present 4 weeks later. Additional experiments revealed that the short testing after sleep deprivation was sufficient to increase express saccades across recovery sleep. An increase in speeded responses across recovery sleep was likewise found for finger motor responses. Our findings indicate that recovery sleep can consolidate motor disinhibition for behaviors practiced during prior sleep deprivation, thereby persistently enhancing response automatization.


behavioral inhibition; express saccades; motor skill learning; sleep; sleep deprivation

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