Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Brain Res. 2011 Feb;208(4):507-17. doi: 10.1007/s00221-010-2497-7. Epub 2010 Dec 1.

Offline consolidation of procedural skill learning is enhanced by negative emotional content.

Author information

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR London, UK.


It is now well established that both procedural skills and episodic memories consolidate across periods of offline retention, and most particularly across periods of sleep. Such consolidation has been demonstrated to be more marked for emotional than for neutral episodes, but the interaction between emotionality and the offline consolidation of procedural skills has yet to be investigated. Here, we address this issue by examining the impact of an emotional background context at encoding upon the subsequent consolidation of mirror tracing, a well-studied procedural skill. We also consider the importance of sleep for such consolidation by manipulating the retention interval (over a day, overnight, or over 24 h containing normal sleep). Our data show significantly greater offline improvements in the accuracy of mirror tracing when negative emotional content is present during the training phase when compared to when neutral or positive content is present. Furthermore, consolidation across a night of sleep is associated with faster and more accurate performance than consolidation across a day of wakefulness. These novel findings show that the emotional context in which a procedural skill is learned can impact upon subsequent offline consolidation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center