Should you stay up all night gambling in Vegas?
The powers that be in Las Vegas figured out something long before neuroscientists at two Duke University medical schools confirmed their ideas this week: Trying to make decisions while sleep-deprived can lead to a case of optimism.
The scientists showed, using a functional MRI, that a night of sleep deprivation leads to increased brain activity in brain regions that assess positive outcomes, while at the same time this deprivation leads to decreased activation in the brain areas that process negative outcomes.
Sleep-deprived individuals in the study tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain, and were less likely to make choices that reduced loss. While this wasn’t true for all of the subjects, the findings are worth heeding.
It has been shown that lack of adequate sleep impairs our ability to make decisions, but this has often been attributed to sleep deprivation’s effects on attention and memory, and the inability to integrate feedback in an effective manner.
This is the first study to show that sleep deprivation can change the way the brain assesses economic value, independent of its effects on vigilant attention.
The study also demonstrates that sleep deprivation increases sensitivity to positive rewards while diminishing sensitivity to negative consequences.