Lack of Sleep Affects Speed, Not Accuracy of Visual Tasks

(HealthDay News) – Sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruptions impact the speed, but not the accuracy, with which complex visual tasks are performed.

Marc Pomplun, PhD, from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and colleagues utilized two comparative visual search tasks to examine the effects of circadian phase, time awake, and chronic sleep restriction on tasks requiring sustained interaction of visual working memory and attentional control. Twelve healthy, young adults (mean age, 22.8 years) had to detect a mismatch between two otherwise identical object distributions, with the mirror task requiring an extra mental image transformation.

The researchers found that time awake and circadian phase significantly influenced the speed of task performance, but not the accuracy. Speed, but not accuracy of task performance, was also affected over the course of three weeks of chronic sleep restriction.

“While the present study has provided an assessment of wake-dependent and circadian effects on the performance of complex visual tasks, it is important to note that the current findings may not generalize across all varieties of such tasks,” the authors write. “The data presented here may nonetheless serve as a starting point for further research on this topic and its many important practical implications.”

One authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


Full Text