Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Auditory and Visual Memory Tasks

Desiree J. Raidy and Lauren F.V. Scharff

Stephen F. Austin State University

(This work was presented at SWPA, 2003 and won the undergrduateresearch award. It published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2005, Vol. 101, 451-467.)

Abstract: Probe recognition tasks have successfully shown the effects of sleep deprivation for periods longer than 12 hours (e.g.Elkin & Murray, 1974; Polzella, 1975). The current study used shorter periods of sleep deprivation. We replicated Elkin and Murray's auditory probe task (using number triplets) and added two visual tasks (number triplets and shape triplets). The tasks presented 40 series of six triplet stimuli which were each followed by a probe, which was presented after 2.5 seconds (short delay) or 20 seconds (long delay). Following a normal night's sleep, sleep deprived participants were tested on all three tasks (counterbalanced blocks) every two hours from 10 p.m. through 8 a.m. Control participants only were tested at 8 a.m. following a normal night's sleep. Accuracy results showed significant effects of sleep deprivation beginning at 4 a.m. for the two visual tasks. The auditory task showed no effects of sleep deprivation for any of our deprivation periods. Visual tasks may be more sensitive to sleep deprivation, possibly due to the briefness of iconic memory.


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