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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 45  |  Page : 217--222

Blink rate during tests of executive performance after nocturnal traffic noise

1 University Medical Centre of the Johannes-Gutenberg University, Langenbeckstr. 1, 55101 Mainz, Germany
2 Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, TU Dortmund University, Ardeystrasse 67, 44139 Dortmund, Germany

Correspondence Address:
Barbara Griefahn
Institute for Occupational Physiology at Dortmund Technical University, Ardeystr. 67, 44139 Dortmund
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.56215

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This analysis is on the hypothesis that nocturnal traffic noise affects sleep quality whereas performance decrement is avoided by increased effort expressed by a decrease in blink rates (BRs) during a visual task. Twenty-four persons (12 women, 12 men; 19-28 years, 23.56 ± 2.49 years) slept during three consecutive weeks in the laboratory while exposed to road, rail, or aircraft noise with weekly permuted changes. Each week consisted of a random sequence of a quiet night (32 dBA) and three nights with equivalent noise levels of 39, 44 and 50 dBA respectively. The polysomnogram was recorded during all nights. Every morning the participants rated their sleep quality and then completed two executive tasks (Go/Nogo-, Switch-task). Neither of the two performance tests was affected by nocturnal noise. Sleep efficiency and subjective sleep quality decreased with increasing noise levels but were not associated with the type of noise. In contrast, BRs were associated with the type of noise, not with noise levels. The results do not support the hypothesis concerning the BR. The possible reasons are discussed. However, the results do not exclude that other physiological parameters such as heart rate or brain potentials measured during the tests might have revealed alterations associated with nocturnal noise exposure.


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