Sleep Loss Does Not Impact Ability to Assess Emotional Information

Summary: Sleep loss does not numb a person’s response to emotional situations, but it can result in difficulties in regulating emotional response.

Source: Washington State University

It’s no secret that going without sleep can affect people’s mood, but a new study shows it does not interfere with their ability to evaluate emotional situations.

It is often assumed that feeling more negative will color people’s experience of emotional images and events in the environment around them. However, Washington State University researchers found that while going 24 hours without sleep impacted study participants’ mood, it did not change their performance on tests evaluating their ability to process emotional words and images.

“People do become less happy through sleep deprivation, but it’s not affecting how they are processing emotional stimuli in their environment,” said Anthony Stenson, a WSU psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study in Plos One.

The findings have implications for healthcare providers, law enforcement and people in other long-hour professions who need to be able to control their own emotions during stressful and emotionally trying situations. Sleep loss in not likely to make them numb to emotional situations, the researchers found, but it is likely to make them less able to control their own emotional responses.

For the study, about 60 adult participants spent four consecutive days in the Sleep and Performance Research Center at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. All participants were allowed to sleep normally the first night and then given a set of baseline tests to judge their mood as well as their emotional regulation and processing ability. Then, the researchers divided the participants into two groups: one group of 40 people spent the second night awake, while a control group of 20 were allowed a normal sleep period. The tests were then re-administered at different intervals.

The emotional regulation and processing tests both involved viewing a series of images with positive and negative emotional connotations. In the emotional regulation tests, participants were given a prompt to help them recontextualize negative images before seeing them and asked to control their feelings. The sleep-deprived group had greater difficulty reducing the emotion they felt when instructed to do so. 

The processing tests involved responding to words and images with emotional content, for example rating the emotions conveyed by a smiling family, a growling dog or a crying child  All participants performed similarly on these tests whether they were sleep deprived or not.

The distinction between processing the emotional content of the world around you and being able to regulate your own emotional responses is an important one, especially for some professions, said co-author Paul Whitney, a WSU professor of psychology.

“I don’t think we want our first responders being numb to the emotional nature of the situations they encounter, and it looks like they are not,” he said. “On the other hand, reacting normally to emotional situations, but not being able to control your own emotions, could be one reason sleep loss sometimes produces catastrophic errors in stressful situations.”

A lot of previous research has looked at how sleep deprivation impacts so called “cold” cognitive tasks—supposedly emotionally neutral tasks like recalling facts. These studies have also found that regulation, which is considered a “top-down” cognitive process, is a major problem with cold cognitive tasks. For instance, mental flexibility is compromised by sleep deprivation. This is the ability an emergency room doctor might need to quickly change tactics if a patient isn’t responding to a treatment.

The current study shows that top-down regulation is a problem as well with “hot” or emotional cognitive processes. Future research is needed to understand whether the effects of sleep loss on the two top-down processes are linked.

This study is the result of an ongoing collaboration among WSU psychology researchers and sleep experts at WSU College of Medicine. Other authors include psychology post-doctoral fellow Courtney Kurinec as well as psychology Professor John Hinson and College of Medicine Professor Hans Van Dongen. All are also affiliated with the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center.

Rivian Thinks It Can Derive $15,500 In Subscription Income From Every Vehicle It Sells

Wow, that we will likely will sign up like lemmings blows my mind. Bad enough we take out loans to buy cars as it is. Something tells me this is a sign of a future to come…

Rivian Thinks It Can Derive $15,500 In Subscription Income From Every Vehicle It Sells (By Steve Hanley)

When Rivian filled for its IPO recently, the documents revealed some surprising things. As Carolyn Fortuna points out, they show the company has burned through a sizable chunk of cash trying to get its business off the ground. In 2020, it lost just over $1 billion. In the first half of this year, it lost nearly a billion dollars more.

There were lots of other interesting things tucked away in all those filing documents as well. Motor Trend reports that all Rivian vehicles will have Level 3 self driving technology baked in, but it will be behind a paywall. Owners can either pay an additional $10,000 up front or opt for a monthly subscription. Other subscriptions will be available for infotainment, connectivity, diagnostics, and other services.

In all, Rivian told the SEC it expects to generate $15,500 in extra income per vehicle over its expected 10 year useful life — $10,000 for the Level 3 self driving package and an additional $5,500 for all those other subscription add ons. That’s assuming people decide to pay for them.

Its vehicles will come standard with Driver+, which uses the vehicle’s adaptive cruise control and lane centering systems, and is further supported by its automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, forward collision warning, dynamic brake support, lane keep assist, highway assist, and park assist systems. Lane change assist and trailer assist may be available later as over-the-air software updates.

Driver+ utilizes 11 cameras (including one that watches to make sure the driver is engaged), 12 ultrasonic sensors, 5 radars, and a high-precision GPS antenna to monitor the environment around the vehicle. It is partially hands free but does require the driver to be prepared to take over control of the wheel at a moment’s notice. It supports but does not replace attention, judgment, and driver control. It’s a collection of Level 2 active safety features that control motor, braking, and steering systems, assisting drivers when certain criteria are met, much like Tesla’s Autopilot system, Motor Trend says.

Software As A Service

The digital revolution will swallow us whole if we let it. 10 years ago, how many people would pay to have a device in their pocket that tracks their every movement every day and shares that data with the government and marketers? If you suggested such a thing, people would think you were ready for a suite at the cuckoo’s nest. Yet, today, people willingly carry such devices and feel compelled to check them every minute or so to make sure they aren’t missing out on something.

As cars become more like computers on wheels, we are finding we don’t actually own them any more. We own the seats, tires, brakes, and motors, but the software that makes them function belongs to the manufacturer. Woe betide the intrepid soul who tries to alter it in any way or make repairs that are not “authorized,” for if the manufacturer frowns on those efforts, it can simply turn off all that lovely software and leave the nominal owner with a pile of inoperable junk.

Manufacturers are in love with the idea of people paying for subscriptions. Some people think autonomous driving is about saving lives. Baloney. It is about companies being able to make money from operating robotaxis. Many years ago in an unguarded moment, a Volvo executive let slip that robotaxis will be a “license to print money.”

Aurora Borealis

A “moderate” geomagnetic storm is forecast for the Earth on Monday, which could cause a few fluctuations to the power grid at higher latitudes and could also affect some satellites, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

The northern lights, aka the aurora borealis, could also be visible in some parts of the nation Monday night in northern-tier states from New England to Washington, according to SpaceWeather.com.

The storm is rated a “G2,” which is the second level of NOAA’s five-level storm scale. (G1 storms are minor, while G5s are considered extreme.) 

The storm is courtesy of a solar flare: On Saturday, a solar flare from a sunspot hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth, which is causing the geomagnetic storm Monday, SpaceWeather.com said.  

High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms and transformer damage could be possible if the storm lasts long enough, NOAA said.