Sleep and Memory Consolidation



A wealth of behavioral evidence suggests that performance improves more following intervals containing wake compared to intervals containing sleep. This sleep benefit reflects the consolidation of memories that takes place over sleep. Just as memory encoding is associated with distinct neural representations, as laid out in this review, the physiology of sleep associated with sleep-dependent memory consolidation also varies with the type of memory. As revealed by recent neuroimaging studies, behavioral changes over sleep are also associated with reorganization of the neural representation of the memory at a systems level and with changes in plasticity at a cellular and molecular level as revealed by studies in animal models. While the reviewed work provides a clear picture of the function of sleep on memory consolidation, we present critical questions that will be essential to address regarding the extent of and limitations on sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Understanding the role of sleep on memory and cognition represents an important step to understanding sleep function more broadly.


Sleep Memory Consolidation Function Cognition Motor skill Plasticity 



This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (MH48,832, MH65,292, MH06,9935, and MH67,754 to M.P.W. and R.S. and AG040133 and HL111695 to R.M.C.S.) and the National Science Foundation (BCS-0121953 to M.P.W. and R.S.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical SchoolCenter for Sleep and CognitionBostonUSA

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