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Neuroimage. 2013 Jul 15;75:87-96. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

The role of sleep and sleep deprivation in consolidating fear memories.

Author information

1
NeuroimageNord, Institute for Systems Neuroscience, University Medical-Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. Electronic address: m.menz@uke.de.
2
NeuroimageNord, Institute for Systems Neuroscience, University Medical-Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; Division of Biopsychology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
3
NeuroimageNord, Institute for Systems Neuroscience, University Medical-Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
4
Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tübingen, Germany; Department of Neuroendocrinology, University of Lübeck, Germany.
5
NeuroimageNord, Institute for Systems Neuroscience, University Medical-Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany; Neuroimaging Center Mainz (NIC), Focus Program Translational Neuroscience, Johannes Gutenberg University Medical Center, Mainz, Germany.
6
Institute of Physiology I, Westfälische Wilhelms-University, Münster, Germany.
7
Department of Neuroendocrinology, University of Lübeck, Germany.

Abstract

Sleep, in particular REM sleep, has been shown to improve the consolidation of emotional memories. Here, we investigated the role of sleep and sleep deprivation on the consolidation of fear memories and underlying neuronal mechanisms. We employed a Pavlovian fear conditioning paradigm either followed by a night of polysomnographically monitored sleep, or wakefulness in forty healthy participants. Recall of learned fear was better after sleep, as indicated by stronger explicitly perceived anxiety and autonomous nervous responses. These effects were positively correlated with the preceding time spent in REM sleep and paralleled by activation of the basolateral amygdala. These findings suggest REM sleep-associated consolidation of fear memory in the human amygdala. In view of the critical participation of fear learning mechanisms in the etiology of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, deprivation of REM sleep after exposure to distressing events is an interesting target for further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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