Homeostatic sleep pressure and responses to sustained attention in the suprachiasmatic area

Christina Schmidt, Fabienne Collette, Yves Leclercq, Virginie Sterpenich, Gilles Vandewalle, Pierre Berthomier, Christian Berthomier, Christophe Phillips, Gilberte Tinguely, Annabelle Darsaud, Steffen Gais, Manuel Schabus, Martin Desseilles, Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, Eric Salmon, Evelyne Balteau, Christian Degueldre, André Luxen, Pierre Maquet, Christian CajochenPhilippe Peigneux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Throughout the day, cognitive performance is under the combined influence of circadian processes and homeostatic sleep pressure. Some people perform best in the morning, whereas others are more alert in the evening. These chronotypes provide a unique way to study the effects of sleep-wake regulation on the cerebral mechanisms supporting cognition. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging in extreme chronotypes, we found that maintaining attention in the evening was associated with higher activity in evening than morning chronotypes in a region of the locus coeruleus and in a suprachiasmatic area (SCA) including the circadian master clock. Activity in the SCA decreased with increasing homeostatic sleep pressure. This result shows the direct influence of the homeostatic and circadian interaction on the neural activity underpinning human behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-9
Number of pages4
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number5926
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2009


  • Attention
  • Brain Mapping
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Melatonin
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Sleep
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus
  • Thalamus
  • Wakefulness
  • Young Adult


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