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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 4;8(12):e82049. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082049. eCollection 2013.

Slow oscillation amplitudes and up-state lengths relate to memory improvement.

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Laboratory for Sleep, Cognition and Consciousness Research, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.


There is growing evidence of the active involvement of sleep in memory consolidation. Besides hippocampal sharp wave-ripple complexes and sleep spindles, slow oscillations appear to play a key role in the process of sleep-associated memory consolidation. Furthermore, slow oscillation amplitude and spectral power increase during the night after learning declarative and procedural memory tasks. However, it is unresolved whether learning-induced changes specifically alter characteristics of individual slow oscillations, such as the slow oscillation up-state length and amplitude, which are believed to be important for neuronal replay. 24 subjects (12 men) aged between 20 and 30 years participated in a randomized, within-subject, multicenter study. Subjects slept on three occasions for a whole night in the sleep laboratory with full polysomnography. Whereas the first night only served for adaptation purposes, the two remaining nights were preceded by a declarative word-pair task or by a non-learning control task. Slow oscillations were detected in non-rapid eye movement sleep over electrode Fz. Results indicate positive correlations between the length of the up-state as well as the amplitude of both slow oscillation phases and changes in memory performance from pre to post sleep. We speculate that the prolonged slow oscillation up-state length might extend the timeframe for the transfer of initial hippocampal to long-term cortical memory representations, whereas the increase in slow oscillation amplitudes possibly reflects changes in the net synaptic strength of cortical networks.

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