Sleep-dependent memory processing
Walker, Matthew P. Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Sleep before learning
- Sleep after learning consolidates memories
- Sleep to integrate and associate
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The neurological means by which sleep affects memory. Many of the functions of sleep remain largely unknown. However, sleep contributes importantly to the brain plasticity that underlies learning and memory. In particular, one function of sleep, in combination with awake daytime learning, is to provide the symbiotic support and coordination of the encoding, consolidation, and integration of memories. In fact, an abundance of evidence supports this role of sleep in what is known as sleep-dependent memory processing. Ultimately, the aim of this sleep-dependent memory processing may be to create a generalized catalog of stored knowledge that does not rely on the verbose retention of all previously learned facts. However, the question of whether sleep affects memory has proved to be a complex scientific challenge. Three core components lie at the heart of this conundrum: (1) memory systems, (2) memory stages, and (3) sleep stages (Fig. 1). See also: Brain; Learning; Memory; Psychology; Sleep and dreaming
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