- Sleep directly following learning benefits consolidation of spatial associative memory
- Learning & Memory
- Volume | Issue number
- 15 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The last decade has brought forth convincing evidence for a role of sleep in non-declarative memory. A similar function of sleep in episodic memory is supported by various correlational studies, but direct evidence is limited.
Here we show that cued recall of face-location associations is significantly higher following a 12-h retention interval containing sleep than following an equally long period of waking. Furthermore, retention is significantly higher over a 24-h sleep-wake interval than over an equally long wake-sleep interval. This difference occurs because retention during sleep was significantly better when sleep followed learning directly, rather than after a day of waking. These data demonstrate a beneficial effect of sleep on memory that cannot be explained solely as a consequence of reduced interference. Rather, our findings suggest a competitive consolidation process, in which the fate of a memory depends, at least in part, on its relative stability at sleep onset: Strong memories tend to be preserved, while weaker
memories erode still further. An important aspect of memory consolidation may thus result from the removal of irrelevant memory "debris."
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