Controlled Attention and Sleep Deprivation: Adding a Self-Regulation Approach?

  •  June Pilcher    
  •  Holly Geldhauser    
  •  J. Beeco    
  •  Tracy Lindquist    


The current study examined performance on an automated task battery under short-term sleep deprivation and
non-sleep deprivation conditions. Twenty-six volunteers completed the sleep deprivation study. Twenty-three
volunteers completed the non-sleep deprivation study. Performance was examined across five test sessions
during 25 hours of acute sleep deprivation conditions and during two days of non-sleep deprivation conditions.
ANOVAs examining changes in performance from baseline levels indicated that performance under sleep
deprivation conditions resulted in a decrease in performance in some tasks and an increase in estimated blood
alcohol concentration. Non-sleep deprivation resulted in stable or increasing performance and a decrease in
estimated blood alcohol concentration. The Controlled Attention Model suggests that the task characteristics
would have helped maintain performance levels but does not explain how performance decreased on some but
not all of the tasks. Extending the Controlled Attention Model to include a broader self-regulation approach
suggests that on some of the tasks the participants did not adequately regulate their engagement in the task (even
with rapidly changing stimuli) resulting in a decrease in performance levels. Incorporating a self-regulation
approach with the Controlled Attention Model could provide a model that better explains the range of effects
seen under sleep deprivation conditions.

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