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Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 28;9(1):3131. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-39271-6.

Sleep deprivation and its effects on communication during individual and collaborative tasks.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, USA.
Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


Sleep loss has been shown to cause impairments in a number of aspects central for successful communication, ranging from poorer linguistic comprehension to alterations in speech prosody. However, the effect of sleep loss on actual communication is unknown. This study investigated how a night of sleep deprivation affected performance during multiple tasks designed to test verbal communication. Healthy participants (N = 183) spent 8-9 hours per night in bed for three nights and were then randomised to either one night of total sleep deprivation or a fourth night with 8-9 hours in bed. The following day, participants completed two tasks together with another participant: a model-building task and a word-description task. Differences in performance of these tasks were assessed alongside speaking duration, speaking volume, and speaking volume consistency. Additionally, participants individually completed a verbal fluency assessment. Performance on the model-building task was worse if the model-builder was sleep deprived, whereas sleep deprivation in the instruction-giver predicted an improvement. Word-description, verbal fluency, speech duration, speaking volume, and speaking volume consistency were not affected. The results suggest that sleep deprivation leads to changes in communicative performance during instructive tasks, while simpler word-description tasks appear resilient.

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