One night of total sleep deprivation impairs implicit learning in the serial reaction task, but not the behavioral expression of knowledge

Neuropsychology. 2003 Jul;17(3):507-16. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.17.3.507.


Implicit sequence learning in the serial reaction task suffers from total sleep deprivation. The authors compared implicit-learning scores in a sleep-deprivation (SD) group (n = 12) and a control group (n = 6). Both groups were tested immediately after learning a 1st sequence; a delayed test was conducted on the next day (after a night without sleep in the SD group). Immediately after the delayed test a 2nd sequence was learned, followed by an immediate test and a delayed test toward the end of the experiment. In the SD group implicit-learning scores were reduced in both tests of the 2nd sequence, but in neither test of the 1st sequence. Thus, 1 night of total sleep deprivation impairs the acquisition of implicit sequence knowledge, but not its behavioral expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time*
  • Serial Learning* / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Time Factors