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Sleep Loss and Decision-Making: The Role of Individual Differences and Task Context

Thursday, 24 January, 2013 - 13:30
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus

Sleep loss due to work demands, clinical conditions, or lifestyle causes well-documented impairments in decision-making. Physiological studies have revealed that sleep deprivation especially alters brain activation in the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to be the site of executive function and higher cognitive processes. As such, it has been inferred that sleep deprivation impairs decision-making through degradation of processes involving executive control. Our data from earlier studies do not unequivocally support this conclusion, suggesting that other aspects of cognition such as attentional failures may underlie observed performance. Further, there are large individual differences in the response to sleep loss which span an order of magnitude. People differ in which specific cognitive domains are affected, as well as in the size of the response.

This talk examines the implications of sleep loss for real-world decision-making through presenting data on 1) individual differences in the response to sleep loss 2) those task contexts most conducive to fatigue-related errors (i.e., the presence of time pressure) and 3) the effects of sleep loss on specific underlying cognitive processes.

Please send your confirmation of your attendance to Linda Van Tittelboom: lvtittel@vub.ac.be.

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