Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of sleep deprivation on central auditory processing

Paulo Breno Noronha Liberalesso12, Karlin Fabianne Klagenberg D’Andrea1, Mara L Cordeiro345*, Bianca Simone Zeigelboim1, Jair Mendes Marques1 and Ari Leon Jurkiewicz1

Author Affiliations

1 University Tuiuti of Paraná, Otoneurology Research Center, Curitiba, Brazil

2 Department of Neuropediatrics, Little Prince Children’s Hospital, Curitiba, Brazil

3 Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Pelé Little Prince Research Institute, Curitiba, Brazil

4 Faculdades Little Prince, Curitiba, Brazil

5 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences of the David Geffen School of Medicine, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-83

Published: 23 July 2012



Sleep deprivation is extremely common in contemporary society, and is considered to be a frequent cause of behavioral disorders, mood, alertness, and cognitive performance. Although the impacts of sleep deprivation have been studied extensively in various experimental paradigms, very few studies have addressed the impact of sleep deprivation on central auditory processing (CAP). Therefore, we examined the impact of sleep deprivation on CAP, for which there is sparse information. In the present study, thirty healthy adult volunteers (17 females and 13 males, aged 30.75 ± 7.14 years) were subjected to a pure tone audiometry test, a speech recognition threshold test, a speech recognition task, the Staggered Spondaic Word Test (SSWT), and the Random Gap Detection Test (RGDT). Baseline (BSL) performance was compared to performance after 24 hours of being sleep deprived (24hSD) using the Student’s t test.


Mean RGDT score was elevated in the 24hSD condition (8.0 ± 2.9 ms) relative to the BSL condition for the whole cohort (6.4 ± 2.8 ms; p = 0.0005), for males (p = 0.0066), and for females (p = 0.0208). Sleep deprivation reduced SSWT scores for the whole cohort in both ears [(right: BSL, 98.4 % ± 1.8 % vs. SD, 94.2 % ± 6.3 %. p = 0.0005)(left: BSL, 96.7 % ± 3.1 % vs. SD, 92.1 % ± 6.1 %, p < 0.0001)]. These effects were evident within both gender subgroups [(right: males, p = 0.0080; females, p = 0.0143)(left: males, p = 0.0076; females: p = 0.0010).


Sleep deprivation impairs RGDT and SSWT performance. These findings confirm that sleep deprivation has central effects that may impair performance in other areas of life.

Central auditory processing; Sleep; RGDT; SSWT