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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2019 Nov 21. doi: 10.1037/xge0000717. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of total sleep deprivation on procedural placekeeping: More than just lapses of attention.

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Department of Psychology.


Total sleep deprivation (TSD) impairs attention as well as higher-order cognitive processes. Because attention is a core component of many tasks, it may fully mediate the effect of sleep deprivation on higher-order processes. We examined this possibility using the Psychomotor Vigilance Task as a measure of attention and the UNRAVEL task as a measure of placekeeping, a higher-order process that involves memory operations and supports performance in a wide range of complex tasks. A large sample of participants (N = 138 contributing data) performed the Psychomotor Vigilance Task and UNRAVEL under rested or sleep-deprived conditions. TSD impaired placekeeping generally and memory maintenance processes specifically, above and beyond the effect of participants' attentional state. The results suggest that TSD may impair a range of higher-order cognitive processes directly, not just fundamental processes such as attention, and that interventions that benefit attention may have limited scope. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


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