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Front Neurol. 2013 Sep 30;4:143. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2013.00143. eCollection 2013.

Sleep-dependent synaptic down-selection (I): modeling the benefits of sleep on memory consolidation and integration.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI , USA.


Sleep can favor the consolidation of both procedural and declarative memories, promote gist extraction, help the integration of new with old memories, and desaturate the ability to learn. It is often assumed that such beneficial effects are due to the reactivation of neural circuits in sleep to further strengthen the synapses modified during wake or transfer memories to different parts of the brain. A different possibility is that sleep may benefit memory not by further strengthening synapses, but rather by renormalizing synaptic strength to restore cellular homeostasis after net synaptic potentiation in wake. In this way, the sleep-dependent reactivation of neural circuits could result in the competitive down-selection of synapses that are activated infrequently and fit less well with the overall organization of memories. By using computer simulations, we show here that synaptic down-selection is in principle sufficient to explain the beneficial effects of sleep on the consolidation of procedural and declarative memories, on gist extraction, and on the integration of new with old memories, thereby addressing the plasticity-stability dilemma.


declarative memory; homeostatic regulation; neurons; plasticity and learning; procedural memory; sleep

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