The impact of sleep deprivation on visual perspective taking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Gaetane Deliens
  • Henryk Bukowski
  • Hichem Slama
  • Axel Cleeremans
  • Philippe Peigneux

Colleges, School and Institutes


Total sleep deprivation (TSD) is known to alter cognitive processes. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to its impact on social cognition. Here, we investigated whether TSD alters levels‐1 and ‐2 visual perspective‐taking abilities, i.e. the capacity to infer (a) what can be seen and (b) how it is seen from another person's visual perspective, respectively. Participants completed levels‐1 and ‐2 visual perspective‐taking tasks after a night of sleep and after a night of TSD. In these tasks, participants had to take their own (self trials) or someone else's (other trials) visual perspective in trials where both perspectives were either the same (consistent trials) or different (inconsistent trials). An instruction preceding each trial indicated the perspective to take (i.e. the relevant perspective). Results show that TSD globally deteriorates social performance. In the level‐1 task, TSD affects the selection of relevant over irrelevant perspectives. In the level‐2 task, the effect of TSD cannot be unequivocally explained. This implies that visual perspective taking should be viewed as partially state‐dependent, rather than a wholly static trait‐like characteristic.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number2
Early online date11 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2018