The benefits that sleep confers on memory are surprisingly widespread. For simple procedural skills – how to ride a bicycle or distinguish different coins in one’s pocket – a night of sleep or an afternoon nap following learning leads to an absolute and dramatic improvement in performance.
|Date||10 May 2016|
|Time||16:00 - 18:00|
Sleep also stabilizes verbal memories, reducing their susceptibility to interference and decay, processes that all too easily lead to forgetting.
But the action of sleep can be more sophisticated than simply strengthening and stabilizing memories. It can lead to the selective retention of emotional memories, or even of emotional components of a scene, while allowing other memories and parts of a scene to be forgotten. It can extract the gist from a list of words, or the rules governing a complex probabilistic game. It can lead to insights ranging from finding the single word that logically connects three apparently unrelated words, to discovering an unexpected rule that allows for the more efficient solving of mathematical problems. It can facilitate the integration of new information into existing networks of related information and help infants learn artificial grammars.
Dreams appear to reflect this ongoing memory processing, and can predict subsequent memory improvement. Likewise, EEG measures may also predict memory processing. Finally, disruptions of normal sleep in neurologic and psychiatric disorders can lead to a failure of these processes.
Attendees at this lecture should learn the evidence to support the claims that:
1. Sleep leads to the absolute enhancement of recently learned procedural skills
2. Sleep can selectively retain specific aspects of recently learned material
3. Sleep can extract the gist of recently learned material and the rules governing that material
4. Spindle deficits in schizophrenia lead to impaired sleep-dependent memory processing