Enhanced memory consolidation via automatic sound stimulation during non-REM sleep

Miika M. Leminen, Jussi Virkkala, Emma Saure, Teemu Paajanen, Phyllis C. Zee, Giovanni Santostasi, Christer Hublin, Kiti Müller, Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen, Minna Huotilainen, Tiina Paunio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Slow-wave sleep (SWS) slow waves and sleep spindle activity have been shown to be crucial for memory consolidation. Recently, memory consolidation has been causally facilitated in human participants via auditory stimuli phase-locked to SWS slow waves. Aims: Here, we aimed to develop a new acoustic stimulus protocol to facilitate learning and to validate it using different memory tasks. Most importantly, the stimulation setup was automated to be applicable for ambulatory home use. Methods: Fifteen healthy participants slept 3 nights in the laboratory. Learning was tested with 4 memory tasks (word pairs, serial finger tapping, picture recognition, and face-name association). Additional questionnaires addressed subjective sleep quality and overnight changes in mood. During the stimulus night, auditory stimuli were adjusted and targeted by an unsupervised algorithm to be phase-locked to the negative peak of slow waves in SWS. During the control night no sounds were presented. Results: Results showed that the sound stimulation increased both slow wave (p = .002) and sleep spindle activity (p < .001). When overnight improvement of memory performance was compared between stimulus and control nights, we found a significant effect in word pair task but not in other memory tasks. The stimulation did not affect sleep structure or subjective sleep quality. Conclusions: We showed that the memory effect of the SWS-targeted individually triggered single-sound stimulation is specific to verbal associative memory. Moreover, the ambulatory and automated sound stimulus setup was promising and allows for a broad range of potential follow-up studies in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberzsx003
JournalSleep
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Keywords

  • Acoustic stimulation
  • Auditory-evoked K-complex
  • EEG
  • Memory
  • Slow-wave sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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