In this study the effect of sleep deprivation on specific components of eye and eyelid movement was investigated in a group of young and healthy subjects. The duration of sleep deprivation was 20 h. Each subject had to execute different saccade tasks: reflexive saccades, voluntary prosaccades and antisaccades. Saccade latency, number of saccade errors and blink rate during the saccade tasks were evaluated as predictors of performance decrements resulting from sleep deprivation. The present study showed no significant deterioration of latency and number of errors in the different saccade tasks. However, the blink rate was significantly higher after a night without sleep than before. It is concluded that the blink rate appears to be a promising psychophysical measurement and a more sensitive parameter than saccade performance to evaluate the effects of 20 h of sleep deprivation. These results encourage further research on this topic.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel