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J Vis Exp. 2014 Jun 18;(88). doi: 10.3791/51500.

Eye tracking, cortisol, and a sleep vs. wake consolidation delay: combining methods to uncover an interactive effect of sleep and cortisol on memory.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Boston College; kelly.bennion@bc.edu.
  • 2Department of Psychology, Wofford College.
  • 3Department of Psychology, Boston College.
  • 4Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame.

Abstract

Although rises in cortisol can benefit memory consolidation, as can sleep soon after encoding, there is currently a paucity of literature as to how these two factors may interact to influence consolidation. Here we present a protocol to examine the interactive influence of cortisol and sleep on memory consolidation, by combining three methods: eye tracking, salivary cortisol analysis, and behavioral memory testing across sleep and wake delays. To assess resting cortisol levels, participants gave a saliva sample before viewing negative and neutral objects within scenes. To measure overt attention, participants' eye gaze was tracked during encoding. To manipulate whether sleep occurred during the consolidation window, participants either encoded scenes in the evening, slept overnight, and took a recognition test the next morning, or encoded scenes in the morning and remained awake during a comparably long retention interval. Additional control groups were tested after a 20 min delay in the morning or evening, to control for time-of-day effects. Together, results showed that there is a direct relation between resting cortisol at encoding and subsequent memory, only following a period of sleep. Through eye tracking, it was further determined that for negative stimuli, this beneficial effect of cortisol on subsequent memory may be due to cortisol strengthening the relation between where participants look during encoding and what they are later able to remember. Overall, results obtained by a combination of these methods uncovered an interactive effect of sleep and cortisol on memory consolidation.

PMID:
24962611
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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