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Arch Ital Biol. 2012 Jun-Sep;150(2-3):185-93. doi: 10.4449/aib.v150i2/3.1412.

Sleep-dependent consolidation of motor skills in patients with narcolepsy-cataplexy.

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Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Italy.



This study investigated whether the altered organization of post-training sleep in patients with narcolepsy-cataplexy (NC) is associated with a lower off-line improvement in the consolidation of motor skills compared with normal subjects.


Fourteen drug-naive NC patients, fulfilling the international clinical and polysomnographic diagnostic criteria, and 14 individually-matched controls underwent training at a sequential finger tapping task (FTT) and were re-tested on the next morning (after a night with polysomnographic recording) and after another six nights (spent at home).


Training and retrieval sessions were performed in a controlled laboratory setting.


FTT performance was worse in NC patients than controls at training and at both retrieval sessions and showed a fairly different time course (slower than in controls) of consolidation. Several sleep indices (lower values of stage-2 NREM sleep and SWS) were compatible with a lower effectiveness of sleep for consolidation of motor skills in NC patients, although no statistically significant relationship was found between such indices and improvement rate.


The consolidation process of motor skills results less effective in NC patients since training and slower than in normal subjects over the week following training. The wider variations in performance scores and sleep parameters of post.-training night in NC patients relative to controls suggest that a) the lower initial consolidation may be due to a less effective encoding consequent to altered prior sleep, and b) the consolidation process over the 24 h following training is negatively influenced not only by the altered characteristics of post-training sleep, but also by the daytime sleepiness following training.

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