While it has been shown previously that targeted memory reactivation can boost memory consolidation during sleep, we now show that sleep spindles might represent the key underlying mechanism," says Bernhard Staresina of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Sleep spindles are half-second to two-second bursts of brain activity, measured in the 10-16 Hertz range on an EEG.
Corticothalamic 5-9 Hz oscillations are more pro-epileptogenic than sleep spindles
The body of research as a whole is pointing toward the conclusion that REM sleep, the sleep spindles of stage II sleep, and SWS are all important in memory, for different but complimentary reasons.
Neuronal excitation may occur when auditory clicks are presented during the sleep spindles of stage II sleep during the ascent from SWS to REM sleep (Sleep Res.
Research Mednick published earlier this year demonstrated the critical role that sleep spindles play in consolidating information from short-term to long-term memory in the hippocampus, located in the cerebral cortex of the brain.
We know that sleep spindles are involved in declarative memory - explicit information we recall about the world, such as places, people and events, " she explained.
But we didn't know if sleep spindles
enable or even cause memories to be stored and consolidated," said senior author Flavio Frohlich, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center.
Mednick and her research team demonstrated, for the first time, the critical role that sleep spindles
play in consolidating memory in the hippocampus, and they showed that pharmaceuticals could significantly improve that process, far more than sleep alone.
Wixted determined that a sleep feature known as sleep spindles
-- bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep -- are important for emotional memory.
refer to brief bursts of faster-frequency waves, generated by a portion of the brain called the thalamus.