The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Jul;5(7):677-81. doi: 10.1038/nn864.


Human performance on visual texture discrimination tasks improves slowly (over days) in the absence of additional training. This 'slow learning' requires nocturnal sleep after training and is limited to the region of visual space in which training occurred. Here, we tested human subjects four times in one day and found that with repeated, within-day testing, perceptual thresholds actually increased progressively across the four test sessions. This performance deterioration was prevented either by shifting the target stimuli to an untrained region of visual space or by having the subjects take a mid-day nap between the second and third sessions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Motivation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Time Factors