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CR16a - INSIGHT REVIEW NATURE|Vol 437|27 October...

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INSIGHT REVIEW NATURE | Vol 437 | 27 October 2005 | doi:10.1038/nature04286 1272 Sleep-dependent memory consolidation Robert Stickgold 1 The concept of ‘sleeping on a problem’ is familiar to most of us. But with myriad stages of sleep, forms of memory and processes of memory encoding and consolidation, sorting out how sleep contributes to memory has been anything but straightforward. Nevertheless, converging evidence, from the molecular to the phenomenological, leaves little doubt that offline memory reprocessing during sleep is an important component of how our memories are formed and ultimately shaped. The question of how sleep might contribute to learning and memory consolidation is an old one. In the first century AD, the Roman rhetorician Quintilian, commenting on the benefits of sleep, noted that, “what could not be repeated at first is readily put together on the following day; and the very time which is generally thought to cause forgetfulness is found to strengthen the memory” 1 . Although this may have been obvious to him, it has been less obvious to the research com- munity, and, until a seminal paper by Karni, Sagi and colleagues in 1994 (ref. 2), the topic received relatively little attention within either the sleep or memory research communities. But over the past 10 years, the rate of publication of research papers on sleep-dependent learning and memory consolidation has increased fivefold 3 . Evidence support- ing sleep-dependent memory consolidation has come from a range of molecular, cellular, physiological and behavioural studies (for a review, see ref. 4; for an opposing view, see ref. 5). One of the major problems facing this area of research is that the terms sleep, memory and memory consolidation all refer to complex phenomena, none of which can be treated as a singular event. I begin this review by clarifying my use of these terms, and then present some of the more convincing evidence from studies of procedural learning in humans. I then review more broadly the behavioural evidence for sleep-dependent consolidation of perceptual and motor skill proce- dural memories, declarative memories and complex cognitive proce- dural memories. I follow this by outlining converging evidence from molecular, cellular, neurophysiological, brain-imaging and dream studies, all of which support an important, and sometimes essential, role for sleep in memory consolidation. Sleep and memory There is more than one type of memory. Consider, for example, the capital of France, what you had for dinner last night and how to ride a bicycle. All three of these recollections require information that you have learned and stored, but they are very different types of memory. Multiple memory systems store different classes of memory in differ- ent brain regions and, quite probably, in different formats.
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