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Slow wave sleep and accelerated forgetting

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Roger Whittaker, Dr Vandy Dhawan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


We investigated whether the benefit of slow wave sleep (SWS) for memory consolidation typically observed in healthy individuals is disrupted in people with accelerated long-term forgetting (ALF) due to epilepsy. SWS is thought to play an active role in declarative memory in healthy individuals and, furthermore, electrographic epileptiform activity is often more prevalent during SWS than during wakefulness or other sleep stages. We studied the relationship between SWS and the benefit of sleep for memory retention using a word-pair associates task. In both the ALF and the healthy control groups, sleep conferred a memory benefit. However, the relationship between the amount of SWS and sleep related memory benefits differed significantly between the groups. In healthy participants, the amount of SWS correlated positively with sleep-related memory benefits. In stark contrast, the more SWS, the smaller the sleep-related memory benefit in the ALF group. Therefore, contrary to its role in healthy people, SWS-associated brain activity appears to be deleterious for memory in patients with ALF. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Atherton KE, Nobre AC, Lazar AS, Wulff K, Whittaker RG, Dhawan V, Lazar ZI, Zeman AZ, Butler CR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cortex

Year: 2016

Volume: 84

Pages: 80-89

Print publication date: 01/11/2016

Online publication date: 12/09/2016

Acceptance date: 29/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0010-9452

ISSN (electronic): 1973-8102

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.08.013


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