Impaired decision making following 49 h of sleep deprivation

Department of Behavioral Biology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.
Journal of Sleep Research (Impact Factor: 3.35). 04/2006; 15(1):7-13. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2006.00487.x
Source: PubMed


Sleep deprivation reduces regional cerebral metabolism within the prefrontal cortex, the brain region most responsible for higher-order cognitive processes, including judgment and decision making. Accordingly, we hypothesized that two nights of sleep loss would impair decision making quality and lead to increased risk-taking behavior on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which mimics real-world decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Thirty-four healthy participants completed the IGT at rested baseline and again following 49.5 h of sleep deprivation. At baseline, volunteers performed in a manner similar to that seen in most samples of healthy normal individuals, rapidly learning to avoid high-risk decks and selecting more frequently from advantageous low-risk decks as the game progressed. After sleep loss, however, volunteers showed a strikingly different pattern of performance. Relative to rested baseline, sleep-deprived individuals tended to choose more frequently from risky decks as the game progressed, a pattern similar to, though less severe than, previously published reports of patients with lesions to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Although risky decision making was not related to participant age when tested at rested baseline, age was negatively correlated with advantageous decision making on the IGT, when tested following sleep deprivation (i.e. older subjects made more risky choices). These findings suggest that cognitive functions known to be mediated by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, including decision making under conditions of uncertainty, may be particularly vulnerable to sleep loss and that this vulnerability may become more pronounced with increased age.

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    • "Recently, research using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a task designed to mimic real life decision-making, has revealed an intricate relationship between sleep and decision-making. Studies show evidence that decision-making on the IGT is disrupted by periods of sleep deprivation (Killgore et al., 2006;). Futhermore, research has emerged to suggest that the reverse relationship exists and that a period of post-learning sleep can help enhance IGT decision-making (Pace-schott et al., 2012;Seeley et al., 2014). "
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    • "It might be possible for a driver to run off the road despite the presence of rumble strips if they ignore an early rumble strip hit and decide to continue driving when highly sleepy. Additionally, sleepiness affects a multitude of cognitive tasks, including decision making and risk acceptance (Killgore et al., 2006) and, thus, if a sleepy driver ignores an earlier rumble strip hit, they could be prone to crashing in another manner other than running off the road. It is plausible to consider hitting a rumble strip as a proxy for a sleep-related close call or near-miss and, as such, the more close calls a driver experiences the greater the likelihood they will have a sleep-related crash (Powell et al., 2007). "
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    • "Sleep deprivation can not only undermine process gains but it simultaneously increases the probability for losses in individual capability. Sleep deprived individuals tend to think less creatively (Horne, 1988a) and are less able to update information (Harrison & Horne, 2000; Killgore et al., 2006; M. E. Smith, McEvoy, & Gevins, 2002), to form new memories (Chee & Choo, 2004; Yoo, Gujar, Hu, Jolesz, & Walker, 2007) or to switch between different tasks (Couyoumdjian et al., 2010). Hence, under sleep deprivation, group members are presumably more likely to stick to single aspects of the interaction, whether it is a certain category of ideas in brainstorming or a specific suggestion for a solution to a decision problem. "
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