episodic memory order and sleep (spindles)

Biol Psychol. 2012 Sep;91(1):150-5. Epub 2012 Jun 13.
Consolidation of temporal order in episodic memories.
Griessenberger H, Hoedlmoser K, Heib DP, Lechinger J, Klimesch W, Schabus M.
Laboratory for Sleep and Consciousness Research, University of Salzburg, Department of Psychology, Division of Physiological Psychology, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.

Even though it is known that sleep benefits declarative memory consolidation, the role of sleep in the storage of temporal sequences has rarely been examined. Thus we explored the influence of sleep on temporal order in an episodic memory task followed by sleep or sleep deprivation. Thirty-four healthy subjects (17 men) aged between 19 and 28 years participated in the randomized, counterbalanced, between-subject design. Parameters of interests were NREM/REM cycles, spindle activity and spindle-related EEG power spectra. Participants of both groups (sleep group/sleep deprivation group) performed retrieval in the evening, morning and three days after the learning night. Results revealed that performance in temporal order memory significantly deteriorated over three days only in sleep deprived participants. Furthermore our data showed a positive relationship between the ratios of the (i) first NREM/REM cycle with more REM being associated with delayed
temporal order recall. Most interestingly, data additionally indicated that (ii) memory enhancers in the sleep group show more fast spindle related alpha power at frontal electrode sites possibly indicating access to a yet to be consolidated memory trace. We suggest that distinct sleep mechanisms subserve different aspects of episodic memory and are jointly involved in sleep-dependent memory consolidation.


About Tore Nielsen

Researcher at University of Montreal and Director of Dream & Nightmare Laboratory
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