How the brain strengthens memories during sleep

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While we sleep, the brain produces particular activation patterns. When two of these patterns — slow oscillations and sleep axes — engage with each other, previous experiences are reactivated. The stronger the reactivation, the clearer the memory of past events will reveal, a new study reveals.

Scientists have long known that slow oscillations (SO) and sleep spindles are sudden bursts of oscillators of half a second to two seconds. the activity: plays an important role in the formation and retention of new memories.

But experts in the UK and Germany have found that the precise combination of OSs and sleep axes is vital to opening windows during which memories are reactivated; helping to form and consolidate memories in the .

Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich have today published their findings in Communications on Nature.

The co-author, Dr Bernhard Staresina, of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Our main means of strengthening memories while we sleep is the reactivation of previously learned information, which allows us to solidify memories in long-term neocortical stores.

“We have discovered a complicated interaction of brain activity — slow oscillations and sleep spindles — that create windows of opportunity that allow for this reactivation.”

Co-author Dr. Thomas Schreiner, of the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, commented: “Memory reactivation is specifically linked to the presence of SO-fus complexes. These results shed new light on the function of sleep in humans and emphasize the importance of orchestrated sleep rhythms to strengthen our memory powers and orchestrate the creation of memories. “

Prior to this study, evidence of the brain’s ability to reactivate memories during sleep was scarce, but the team devised new tests where participants were shown information before taking a nap and closely monitored the activity. brain during the (NREM) sleeping by EEG recording. Participants were tested after waking to recall memory, which allowed researchers to link the extent of memory reactivation during sleep with memory performance.

The results revealed the reactivation of learning material during SO-fus complexes, with the accuracy of SO-fus coupling predicting how strongly memory would be reactivated by the brain. In turn, this predicted the level of memory consolidation among participants and the subsequent clarity of memory.


Following the information learned recently during sleep improves memory, and this is how


More information:
“Reactivation of endogenous memory during sleep 1 in humans is timed by slow-axis oscillation complexes” Thomas Schreiner, Marit Petzka, Tobias Staudigl and Bernhard P. Staresina, Communications on Nature, 2021.

Citation: Press (re) play to remember: How the brain strengthens memories during sleep (2021, May 25) recovered on May 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-replay-brain -memories.html

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