Impairment of error monitoring following sleep deprivation

Sleep. 2005 Jun;28(6):707-13. doi: 10.1093/sleep/28.6.707.


Study objectives: To verify if error monitoring, involving detection and remedial actions, is affected by sleep deprivation.

Design: Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and electroencephalogram spectrum during performance of Flanker task were obtained in a within-subject, counter-balanced, repeated-measures design.

Setting: Sleep deprivation and data collection were conducted in a laboratory setting.

Participants: Sixteen young healthy adults (7 women, 18-23 years old)

Interventions: Performance and electroencephalogram data were collected after normal sleep and sleep deprivation.

Measurements and results: Compared to normal sleep, 1 night of sleep deprivation resulted in slower and more varied reaction times, more response errors and omissions, and impaired posterror adjustments to response accuracy. Concomitantly, 2 error-related ERPs, error-related negativity and Pe, showed reduced amplitude measurements after sleep deprivation. Conversely, conflict monitoring as expressed behaviorally and by the N2 component of the ERP was not attenuated by sleep deprivation. Ten of the sixteen participants maintained similar accuracy levels under both sleep conditions, although they still showed reduced error-related negativity and error positivity amplitude measurements and impaired error remedial actions for accuracy. Electroencephalogram spectral activity at beta and theta frequency bands was related to response correctness on subsequent trials but not related to that of preceding trials under both sleep conditions.

Conclusions: One night of sleep deprivation impaired both the error detection and error remedial actions and highlighted the inability to avoid making errors again after erroneous responses were already made. The results showed that a vicious cycle occurred between performance deterioration and impairment of error-remedial mechanisms that inevitably led to making more successive errors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications*
  • Sleep Deprivation / diagnosis*