Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 187, Issue 4, pp 631–639 | Cite as

The relationship between poor sleep and inhibitory functions indicated by event-related potentials

  • Markus Breimhorst
  • Michael Falkenstein
  • Anke Marks
  • Barbara Griefahn
Research Article


The present study focused on the relationship between normal variations of sleep and inhibitory functions as reflected in event-related potentials. For this reason one night of 21 healthy participants was analysed. After waking up all participants completed a visual Go/Nogo task. On the basis of a sleep disturbance index (SDI) the participants were separated into 8 SDI-good and 13 SDI-poor sleepers using a cluster analysis. The results showed that Nogo-N2 amplitude was smaller and Nogo-P3 latency longer in SDI-poor sleepers. Moreover, Go-P3 amplitude was smaller in SDI-poor sleepers. Performance parameters were not influenced by poor sleep. We concluded that poor sleep specifically affects the intensity of pre-motor inhibitory processes (Nogo-N2 amplitude), the speed to inhibit a motor response (Nogo-P3 latency) and the intensity of task-relevant information processing (Go-P3 amplitude). In further studies, it should be explored under which conditions such subliminal deficits also become relevant for overt behaviour.


Sleep Event-related potentials N2 P3 Go/Nogo 



This study was supported by the Virtual Institute “Transportation Noise–Effects on Sleep and Performance” of the Helmholtz Gemeinschaft (HGF) under the grant-no VH-VI-111.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Breimhorst
    • 1
  • Michael Falkenstein
    • 1
  • Anke Marks
    • 1
  • Barbara Griefahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Occupational Physiology at Dortmund UniversityDortmundGermany

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