1The Role of Sleep in Memory ConsolidationCathy ChenN19482942Cognitive Neuroscience, Fall 2020TA: Chelsie Berg
2The Role of Sleep in Memory ConsolidationFor over more than a century, research has established that sleep benefits the retention ofmemory. During sleep, the brain is in a state that optimizes memory consolidation whereas thewakeful brain is more suited for encoding memories. Consolidation happens through reactivatingrecently encoded neuronal memory representations, which occurs during slow-wave sleep(SWS), and transforms these representations for integration into long-term memory (Rasch &Born, 2017). Sleeping induces memory consolidation, thus strengthening synaptic plasticitywhich are the neural connections that form memories and allows old memories to stay whilesimultaneously creating space for new memories to form. Without sufficient sleep, people’sability to focus and learn efficiently is greatly impaired.Recent studies on the role of sleep on memory consolidation have focused on decryptingthe specific factors that contribute to making memories last. Sensory stimulation documentedthrough a computational model of the thalamocortical system coupled with a functionalMagnetic Resonance Imaging experiment of memory recall emphasizes the important role thatsleep has on memory consolidation and synaptic plasticity especially in the hippocampus,neocortex, and thalamocortical regions.