Partial-sleep Deprivation Differentially Affects Semantic Memory According to Word Class

Open Access
Li, Jessie Felice
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Frederick Martin Brown, Thesis Supervisor
  • Jeff M Love, Honors Advisor
  • sleep deprivation
  • partial sleep deprivation
  • semantic
  • semantic memory
  • word class
  • immediate serial recall
Sleep deprivation is a major health and safety concern to our society. The purpose of this study was to examine how partial sleep deprivation (PSD) differentially affects semantic memory according to three word classes: function, concrete content, and abstract content. This study extends a previous study that showed PSD giving rise to impaired semantic memory. The previous study lacked several controls that were implemented in this study in order to generalize the findings. Ninety-one participants (74 females, mean age 20) performed an immediate serial recall task involving the three classes of words, which differ in their semantic representations. Participants were grouped as PSD, intermediate, or well rested based on their hours of sleep from the night before testing, with the respective guidelines as followed: 6.5 hours or less (PSD), greater than 6.5 hours but less than 8 hours (intermediate), and 8 hours or great (well-rested). The word classes were grouped in word sequences that balance out any position effects. The PSD group recalled fewer abstract words, that have weak semantic representations, as compared to more well rested groups. It also had lower recall for the word sequence with the least semantic representations—abstract and function—as compared to more well-rested groups. Concrete words, when in the last sequence position, were recalled more frequently than function words in the last position. These results supported the prior study that PSD apparently impairs semantic memory.