Anticipatory attention during the sleep onset period

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (3):912-919 (2011)
Abstract
To examine whether anticipatory attention or expectancy is a cognitive process that is automatic or requires conscious control, we employed a paired-stimulus event-related potential paradigm during the transition to sleep. The slow negative ERP wave observed between two successive stimuli, the Contingent Negative Variation , reflects attention and expectancy to the second stimulus. Thirteen good sleepers were instructed to respond to the second stimulus in a pair during waking sessions. In a non-response paradigm modified for sleep, participants then fell asleep while tones played. As expected, N1 decreased and P2 increased in amplitude systematically with the loss of consciousness at sleep onset; the CNV was increasingly more positive. Sleep onset latency was correlated with the amplitude of the CNV. The systematic attenuation of the CNV waveform at sleep onset and its absence in sleep indicates that anticipatory attention requires endogenous conscious control
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