Deprivation and recovery of sleep in succession enhances reflexive motor behavior

Andreas Sprenger, Frederik D. Weber, Bjoern Machner, Silke Talamo, Sabine Scheffelmeier, Judith Bethke, Christoph Helmchen, Steffen Gais, Hubert Kimmig, Jan Born*

*Corresponding author for this work
4 Citations (Scopus)


Sleep deprivation impairs inhibitory control over reflexive behavior, and this impairment is commonly assumed to dissipate after recovery sleep. Contrary to this belief, herewe showthat fast reflexive behaviors, when practiced during sleep deprivation, is consolidated across recovery sleep and, thereby, becomes preserved. As a model for the study of sleep effects on prefrontal cortex-mediated inhibitory control in humans, we examined reflexive saccadic eye movements (express saccades), as well as speeded 2-choice finger motor responses. Different groups of subjects were trained on a standard prosaccade gap paradigm before periods of nocturnal sleep and sleep deprivation. Saccade performancewas retested in the next morning and again 24 h later. The rate of express saccades was not affected by sleep after training, but slightly increased after sleep deprivation. Surprisingly, this increase augmented even further after recovery sleep and was still present 4 weeks later. Additional experiments revealed that the short testing after sleep deprivation was sufficient to increase express saccades across recovery sleep. An increase in speeded responses across recovery sleep was likewise found for finger motor responses. Our findings indicate that recovery sleep can consolidate motor disinhibition for behaviors practiced during prior sleep deprivation, thereby persistently enhancing response automatization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)4610-4618
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2015

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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