Sleep deprivation alters pupillary reactivity to emotional stimuli in health young adults

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3811 O'Hara St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Biological psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 12/2008; 80(3):300-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.10.010
Source: PubMed


The aim of this pilot study was to quantify the impact of sleep deprivation on psychophysiological reactivity to emotional stimuli. Following an adaptation night of sleep in the lab, healthy young adults were randomly assigned to either one night of total sleep deprivation or to a normal sleep control condition. The next afternoon, responses to positive, negative, and neutral picture stimuli were examined with pupillography, an indicator of cognitive and affective information processing. Only the sleep-deprived group displayed significantly larger pupil diameter while viewing negative pictures compared to positive or neutral pictures. The sleep-deprived group also showed anticipatory pupillary reactivity during blocks of negative pictures. These data suggest that sleep deprivation is associated with increased reactions to negative emotional information. Such responses may have important implications for psychiatric disorders, which may be triggered or characterized by sleep disturbances.

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    • "As sleep changes have historically been more tied to NA (for example, reactivity responses to negative, but not positive images; Franzen et al., 2009), we expected to find effects that were specific to negative emotional reactivity. To address specificity, we ran an overall model to test effects on negative and positive reactivity, and expected to find a three-way interaction between sleep, group, and type of event. "
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    • "Evidence abounds for the importance of sleep for emotional functioning in waking life. For instance, studies have found that sleep benefits emotional reactivity in waking life: sleep deprivation increases reactivity to negative stimuli (Franzen et al., 2009), to anger and fear emotions (Gujar et al., 2010), and indeed also to positive stimuli (Gujar et al., 2011). The latter indicates an overall overreactivity to emotional stimuli following sleep deprivation, suggesting a general modulating effect of sleep on emotions. "
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