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Sci Rep. 2011;1:127. doi: 10.1038/srep00127. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

An N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor agonist facilitates sleep-independent synaptic plasticity associated with working memory capacity enhancement.

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  • 1Department of Adult Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo 187-8502, Japan.


Working memory (WM) capacity improvement is impacted by sleep, and possibly by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) agonists such as D-cycloserine (DCS), which also affects procedural skill performance. However, the mechanisms behind these relationships are not well understood. In order to investigate the neural basis underlying relationships between WM skill learning and sleep, DCS, and both sleep and DCS together, we evaluated training-retest performances in the n-back task among healthy subjects who were given either a placebo or DCS before the task training, and then followed task training sessions either with wakefulness or sleep. DCS facilitated WM capacity enhancement only occurring after a period of wakefulness, rather than sleep, indicating that WM capacity enhancement is affected by a cellular heterogeneity in synaptic plasticity between time spent awake and time spent asleep. These findings may contribute to development, anti-aging processes, and rehabilitation of higher cognition.

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