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J Sleep Res. 2012 Dec;21(6):612-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.01017.x. Epub 2012 May 16.

EEG Σ and slow-wave activity during NREM sleep correlate with overnight declarative and procedural memory consolidation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Previous studies suggest that sleep-specific brain activity patterns such as sleep spindles and electroencephalographic slow-wave activity contribute to the consolidation of novel memories. The generation of both sleep spindles and slow-wave activity relies on synchronized oscillations in a thalamo-cortical network that might be implicated in synaptic strengthening (spindles) and downscaling (slow-wave activity) during sleep. This study further examined the association between electroencephalographic power during non-rapid eye movement sleep in the spindle (sigma, 12-16 Hz) and slow-wave frequency range (0.1-3.5 Hz) and overnight memory consolidation in 20 healthy subjects (10 men, 27.1 ± 4.6 years). We found that both electroencephalographic sigma power and slow-wave activity were positively correlated with the pre-post-sleep consolidation of declarative (word list) and procedural (mirror-tracing) memories. These results, although only correlative in nature, are consistent with the view that processes of synaptic strengthening (sleep spindles) and synaptic downscaling (slow-wave activity) might act in concert to promote synaptic plasticity and the consolidation of both declarative and procedural memories during sleep.

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