The effect of sleep deprivation on BOLD activity elicited by a divided attention task Academic Article uri icon


  • Sleep loss, widespread in today's society and associated with a number of clinical conditions, has a detrimental effect on a variety of cognitive domains including attention. This study examined the sequelae of sleep deprivation upon BOLD fMRI activation during divided attention. Twelve healthy males completed two randomized sessions; one after 27 h of sleep deprivation and one after a normal night of sleep. During each session, BOLD fMRI was measured while subjects completed a cross-modal divided attention task (visual and auditory). After normal sleep, increased BOLD activation was observed bilaterally in the superior frontal gyrus and the inferior parietal lobe during divided attention performance. Subjects reported feeling significantly more sleepy in the sleep deprivation session, and there was a trend towards poorer divided attention task performance. Sleep deprivation led to a down regulation of activation in the left superior frontal gyrus, possibly reflecting an attenuation of top-down control mechanisms on the attentional system. These findings have implications for understanding the neural correlates of divided attention and the neurofunctional changes that occur in individuals who are sleep deprived.


  • Jackson, ML
  • Hughes, ME
  • Croft, RJ
  • Howard, ME
  • Crewther, D
  • Kennedy, GA
  • Owens, K
  • Pierce, RJ
  • O'Donoghue, FJ
  • Johnston, P

publication date

  • 2011