Venkatraman et al. make these fascinating observations:
A single night of sleep deprivation (SD) evoked a strategy shift during risky decision making such that healthy human volunteers moved from defending against losses to seeking increased gains. This change in economic preferences was correlated with the magnitude of an SD-driven increase in ventromedial prefrontal activation as well as by an SD-driven decrease in anterior insula activation during decision making. Analogous changes were observed during receipt of reward outcomes: elevated activation to gains in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum, but attenuated anterior insula activation following losses. Finally, the observed shift in economic preferences was not correlated with change in psychomotor vigilance. These results suggest that a night of total sleep deprivation affects the neural mechanisms underlying economic preferences independent of its effects on vigilant attention.