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Psychol Sci. 2006 Oct;17(10):891-8.

Sleep facilitates consolidation of emotional declarative memory.

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  • 1Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Both sleep and emotion are known to modulate processes of memory consolidation, yet their interaction is poorly understood. We examined the influence of sleep on consolidation of emotionally arousing and neutral declarative memory. Subjects completed an initial study session involving arousing and neutral pictures, either in the evening or in the morning. Twelve hours later, after sleeping or staying awake, subjects performed a recognition test requiring them to discriminate between these original pictures and novel pictures by responding "remember,""know" (familiar), or "new." Selective sleep effects were observed for consolidation of emotional memory: Recognition accuracy for know judgments of arousing stimuli improved by 42% after sleep relative to wake, and recognition bias for remember judgments of these stimuli increased by 58% after sleep relative to wake (resulting in more conservative responding). These findings hold important implications for understanding of human memory processing, suggesting that the facilitation of memory for emotionally salient information may preferentially develop during sleep.

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