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Gemma Hanson, Anne Hillstrom, Tamaryn Menneer, Dominic Taunton; Effective task-switching behaviour despite fatigue by sleep restriction.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):970. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.10.970.
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Sleep deprivation or restriction produces a tendency to conduct more exploratory behaviour (Aston-Jones & Cohen, 2005), in which there is a willingness to try new strategies (Glass et al., 2009). Voluntary task-switching strategies identified by Payne et al (2007) might therefore differ between sleep-deprived individuals and controls. Restricting sleep to 4 hours per night causes accelerated deterioration of performance (McCauley et al, 2009) with multi-tasking performance being affected after 3-5 nights (Haavisto et al, 2010). In the current study, task-switching behaviour was compared across participants whose sleep was restricted to 4 hours per night for 3 nights and participants who maintained their usual sleep pattern. The same task-switching paradigm as used by Payne et al (2007) is used, in which participants are presented with two sets of seven letters from which they are asked to generate as many words as possible. Only one set of letters is visible at a given time, and participants could freely switch between the two. Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (Åkerstedt & Gillberg, 1990) ratings were higher for the sleep-restricted than the control group. Results showed no difference between the control and sleep-restricted conditions for the number of switches made, for the number of errors made, for the types of errors made, and for the giving-up time (the time between the last word generated and the participant deciding to switch to the other task) (ηP2 = .001 to .046, power = .029 to .053). A possible reason for these null results is that sleep loss impairs some aspects of cognition more than others (Killgore 2015) and the effect of fatigue on task switching does not have any impact when the task switching is voluntary, rather the effect appears when the individual is forced to switch tasks after sleep restriction (Couyoumdjian et al. 2010).
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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