Effect of the diurnal rhythm and 24 h of sleep deprivation on dichotic temporal order judgment

J Sleep Res. 2005 Mar;14(1):7-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00423.x.


The present study examined the impact of mild (24 h) sleep deprivation and of the circadian rhythm on auditory temporal resolution, measured by dichotic temporal order judgment (TOJ). The rationale for the present study was based on several areas of research. First, the 'sleep-based neuropsychological perspective' hypothesis posits that sleep reduction initially impacts the functions associated with intact prefrontal cortical activity, e.g. language tasks. Secondly, recent studies indicate the importance of the role of auditory temporal resolution in speech comprehension. Thirdly, there is accumulating evidence of the involvement of prefrontal cortical structures in auditory temporal resolution. We hypothesized that mild to moderate sleep deprivation would affect dichotic TOJ negatively. The results showed that: (1) 24 h of sleep deprivation significantly reduced the overall level of accuracy in dichotic TOJ and increased dichotic TOJ threshold from 57.61 ms to 73.93 ms, a reduction in temporal resolution of 28.3%; (2) dichotic TOJ was subject to a small, but significant diurnal rhythm having a nadir in early to mid afternoon. As auditory temporal resolution of speech and non-speech sounds seems to be dependent on intact functioning of the left inferior and left dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), these data strengthen the argument that even mild to moderate sleep deprivation can impact negatively on PFC-dependent functions. Furthermore, based on these findings, we suggest that the deficit in auditory temporal resolution in individuals suffering from sleep loss may also affect language comprehension.

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Dichotic Listening Tests*
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / diagnosis
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Sleep Deprivation / diagnosis
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Time Perception / physiology*