Effects of phase-locked acoustic stimulation during a nap on EEG spectra and declarative memory consolidation

Ju Lynn Ong, June C. Lo, Nicholas I.Y.N. Chee, Giovanni Santostasi, Ken A. Paller, Phyllis C. Zee, Michael W.L. Chee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Objectives: Acoustic stimulation synchronized to slow waves (SWs) can enhance these sleep features and facilitate memory consolidation during nocturnal sleep. Here, we investigated whether a similar benefit could be accrued following stimulation during an afternoon nap. We also evaluated the event-related dynamics of associated EEG spectral changes and their correlation with memory performance. Methods: Sixteen healthy young adults (mean age: 22 ± 1.4 years; nine males) were studied under two conditions: stimulation (STIM) and no stimulation (SHAM), in counter-balanced order. In the STIM condition, acoustic stimulation was delivered using blocks of five tones, each phase-locked to the SW up-state during a 90-min nap opportunity. In the SHAM condition, these time points were marked, but tones were not presented. Prior to the nap, participants learned 40 semantically related word pairs and immediate recall was tested. A delayed recall test was administered 45 min after awakening. Results: Compared to the SHAM condition, acoustic stimulation increased SW amplitude, theta, and fast spindle activity and attenuated the forgetting of word pairs (p values < 0.05). Conclusion: Phase-locked acoustic stimulation can promote sleep-dependent declarative memory during a daytime nap. This can be achieved by stimulation in Stage 2 and SWS without a requirement for high-amplitude slow wave detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Acoustic stimulation
  • Memory consolidation
  • Sleep
  • Slow waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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