Effects of sleep deprivation on cortical activation during directed attention in the absence and presence of visual stimuli

Michael W.L. Chee, Cindy S.F. Goh, Praneeth Namburi, Sarayu Parimal, Katharina N. Seidl, Sabine Kastner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Sleep deprivation (SD) can give rise to faltering attention but the mechanics underlying this remain uncertain. Using a covert attention task that required attention to a peripheral target location, we compared the effects of attention and SD on baseline activity prior to visual stimulation as well as on stimulus-evoked activity. Volunteers were studied after a night of normal sleep (RW) and a night of SD. Baseline signal elevations evoked by preparatory attention in the absence of visual stimulation were attenuated within rFEF, rIPS (sparing SEF) and all retinotopically mapped visual areas during SD, indicative of impaired endogenous attention. In response to visual stimuli, attention modulated activation in higher cortical areas and extrastriate cortex (hV4, ventral occipital areas) after RW. SD attenuated rFEF, rIPS, V3a and VO stimulus-evoked activation regardless of whether stimuli were attended. Notably, the modulation of stimulus-evoked activation by attention was not affected by SD unlike for the preparatory period, suggesting a reduced number, but still functional circuits during SD. Deficits in endogenous attention in SD dominate in the preparatory period, whereas changes in stimulus-related activation arise from an interaction between compromised fronto-parietal top-down control of attention and reduced sensitivity of extrastriate visual cortex to top-down or bottom-up inputs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-604
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 15 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Endogenous attention
  • Exogenous attention
  • FMRI
  • Preparatory period
  • Sleep deprivation


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