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Effect of sleep deprivation on emotional working memory
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3932-7310
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Biological psychology.
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2019 (English)In: Journal of Sleep Research, ISSN 0962-1105, E-ISSN 1365-2869, Vol. 28, no 1, article id e12744Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The emotional dysregulation and impaired working memory found after sleep loss can have severe implications for our daily functioning. Considering the intertwined relationship between emotion and cognition in stimuli processing, there could be further implications of sleep deprivation in high‐complex emotional situations. Although studied separately, this interaction between emotion and cognitive processes has been neglected in sleep research. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of 1 night of sleep deprivation on emotional working memory. Sixty‐one healthy participants (mean age: 23.4 years) were either sleep deprived for 1 night (n = 30) or had a normal night’s sleep (n = 31). They performed an N‐back task with two levels of working memory load (1‐back and 3‐back) using positive, neutral and negative picture scenes. Sleep deprivation, compared with full night sleep, impaired emotional working memory accuracy, but not reaction times. The sleep‐deprived participants, but not the controls, responded faster to positive than to negative and neutral pictures. The effect of sleep deprivation was similar for both high and low working memory loads. The results showed that although detrimental in terms of accuracy, sleep deprivation did not impair working memory speed. In fact, our findings indicate that positive stimuli may facilitate working memory processing speed after sleep deprivation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 28, no 1, article id e12744
Keywords [en]
affective significance, executive functions, positivity effect, sleep loss, sustained wakefulness
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-164948DOI: 10.1111/jsr.12744ISI: 000456255400011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-164948DiVA, id: diva2:1280834
Available from: 2019-01-21 Created: 2019-01-21 Last updated: 2022-03-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Processing affective information after sleep loss
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Processing affective information after sleep loss
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is not fully understood why we need to sleep, although it is evident that sleep loss has consequences for many emotional and cognitive functions. The last couple of decades, sleep researchers have been increasingly devoted to better understand the relationship between sleep and affect. However, it is still poorly understood how sleep deprivation influences the way in which affective information is processed. The aim of this thesis was to investigate if there is a bias towards affective information after sleep deprivation and whether such bias influence information processing.

Study I tested reinforcement learning from positive as compared to negative feedback after two nights of sleep restriction. There were no indications of the expected reward-seeking behavior in generalized learning or in the learning strategy. A slowing in learning rate inferred from computational modeling was observed primarily for negative feedback. This could be indicative of a slowing in memory integration. It is unclear if the dopamine alterations proposed to cause reward-seeking behavior after total sleep deprivation are also implicated after sleep restriction.

Study II examined the neurophysiological response of the competition of attention between unpleasant and neutral pictures after two nights of sleep restriction. We found no alterations of sleep restriction on attention in relation to picture valence, or on executive control of attention. Despite observations of an increased sleepiness, an impaired sustained attention, and reduced positive affect, the few hours of allowed sleep may have been enough to counteract an affective bias and an executive control impairment.

Study III tested if one night of total sleep deprivation altered working memory for positive, negative, or neutral pictures using two levels of working memory load. Results showed that working memory accuracy was generally impaired after sleep deprivation, independent of picture valence. However, in the sleep deprived group we observed faster responses to positive and slower responses to negative pictures. These results could indicate a bias towards both positive and negative pictures, but with opposite consequences on working memory speed.

Study IV used the same protocol as Study III to combinedly test two common findings among older adults: That they prioritize positive over negative stimuli (the positivity effect), and that they are less affected by sleep deprivation. Working memory performance was overall better for positive than negative pictures, with no differences between the sleep conditions. This positivity effect was only present in the low working memory load condition. These results show that even after a state-dependent challenge such as sleep deprivation, the positivity effect remains in older adults, at least when working memory load is low.

Overall, the Studies in this thesis demonstrate signs of affective bias as well as lack thereof after total and partial sleep deprivation. The use of a diverse set of tasks and methodology may have contributed to the discrepancies in the findings, but it also highlights that we have yet to fully understand how lack of sleep may influence the processing of affectively valuable information.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2022. p. 95
Keywords
sleep deprivation, sleep restriction, affective bias, emotional working memory, positivity effect, sömnbrist, sömnrestriktion, emotionellt bias, arbetsminne, positivitetseffekten
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Neurosciences
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-202952 (URN)978-91-7911-828-0 (ISBN)978-91-7911-829-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2022-05-13, Lärosal 24, Albano Hus 4, Albanovägen 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-04-20 Created: 2022-03-24 Last updated: 2022-04-04Bibliographically approved

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Gerhardsson, AndreasÅkerstedt, TorbjörnAxelsson, JohnFischer, HåkanLekander, MatsSchwarz, Johanna

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