A fascinating new sleep study is reported today at PsychCentral.com, that looked into exactly what is affected by sleep deprivation. Researchers from Washington State University say they found that working memory, an executive function of the brain, was NOT affected by up to 51 hours of sleep deprivation. What they did find was impaired was information intake and other non-executive functions.
In other words, the sleep-deprived brain appears to be capable of processing information, but this information may be distorted before it can be processed.
These results challenge an existing theory that states that sleep deprivation affects executive functions more than non-executive cognitive processes.