Manipulating and classifying memory processing during sleep

Project: Research project

Project Details


The ability to remember information learned previously is central to human success. People can be aware of forming and retrieving memories, but there is much more to memory that is hidden, that remains unconscious. In particular, sleep must now be acknowledged as a state during which memory storage can be altered. Such alterations intervene between encoding and retrieval, and may be critical for producing enduring memories. Conceivably, when specific memories are reactivated during sleep, memory storage can be strengthened and new links can be formed among memories. As such, consolidation can thus allow us to use our memories more effectively in many contexts. This project provides new opportunities to elucidate the important transactions in memory storage that take place in the human brain when we sleep. To make progress at this intriguing intersection of memory research and sleep research, this project will take the innovative approach of combining (a) auditory stimulation during sleep to elicit memory reactivation and (b) extensive analysis of EEG recordings using multivariate classifier analyses. Through systematic arrangement of learning and testing procedures, auditory stimulation will function as a prompt for memory reactivation in the brain. An overarching objective is to monitor and characterize memory reactivation during sleep, as we build a better understanding of fundamental memory processing that contributes to making important information available for later remembering. ? Memory depends on three general processes: encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. The vast bulk of memory research has been devoted to encoding and retrieval. Consolidation is commonly inferred on the basis of retrieval failure in retrograde amnesia. Now we have the opportunity to expand our understanding of consolidation with direct manipulations. The primary intellectual merit of the project is based on discovering novel ways in which processing that contributes to consolidation can be manipulated during sleep while relevant neural activity is simultaneously monitored. Previously, finding the exact time of consolidation was difficult -- it could happen over days or months following initial memory acquisition. Applying methods for targeted memory reactivation during sleep will provide new knowledge about ways in which sleep can promote consolidation, which is key to understanding the benefits that sleep provides with respect to our daily use of memory. These efforts will extend current research on memory processing during sleep by adopting pattern classifier analysis methods to extract neural correlates of memory reactivation during sleep. Through these methodological advances, this work will provide new leverage on investigating the brain events whereby memory storage becomes dependable. ? This research delves into complex memory mechanisms while also providing cognitive neuroscience training opportunities for trainees at all levels, including scientists from underrepresented groups. Findings will be disseminated widely, both in the scientific literature and for the general public, and will lead to insights into memory function that will enhance public understanding and appreciation of science. Data collected during the course of this project will be made available for teaching purposes and so that other researchers can use and evaluate EEG analytic advances, particularly with respect to neural events associated with memory reactivation. The work will thus provide methodological approaches that can be applied to achieve scientific advances in o
Effective start/end date4/1/153/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (BCS‐1461088)


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