The Effect of Total, Partial, and Stage Sleep Deprivation on EEG Patterns and Performance

  • Laverne C. Johnson


Less than 20 years ago, few scientists would have considered sleep an appropriate topic for a symposium concerning behavior and brain electrical activity. Though some investigators had studied brain electrical activity during sleep (Loomis, Harvey, and Hobart 1937), sleep was hardly conceived as a fruitful period for behavioral research. Sleep was regarded as a quiet period, even referred to as a state of unconsciousness. We are now aware of the richness of sleep behavior, and perhaps in no other area are brain electrical activity and behavior so closely coupled as in a person going from awake to the drowsy period of stage 1, then on to sleep identified by the brain’s unique signature, sleep spindles and bursts of K-complexes. The sleep spindles and large-amplitude delta rhythms of stages 2, 3, and 4 (nonREM sleep) periodically give way to the low-voltage electroencephalographic (EEG) activity with associated rapid eye movements (REMs) reflecting the characteristic 90–100 minute cycle of REM-nonREM sleep. This cycle and the unique behavioral and physiological activity associated with each phase are tracked nightly in laboratories throughout the world by means of electroencephalographic recordings of brain electrical activity. Not only is this electrical activity of the sleeping brain a universal human phenomenon, but comparable activity is also present in nonhuman species. Clearly sleep is an excellent area to study the relation between brain electrical activity and behavior.


Sleep Deprivation Sleep Stage Total Sleep Time Sleep Loss Brain Electrical Activity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laverne C. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Navy Medical Neuropsychiatric Research UnitSan DiegoUSA

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