Guest Lecture of Dr. Susanne Diekelmann

Guest Lecture of Dr. Susanne Diekelmann


From University of Tübingen


Date: 20th November 2013, 18h c.t.


Venue: Building A2 4, Room 2.16


Topic: Memory consolidation during sleep: The role of reactivation and future relevance



Sleep is known to benefit the consolidation of memories. In an active process of system consolidation sleep reorganizes and integrates new memory representations into the network of pre-existing long-term memories. This process is assumed to rely on covert reactivations of new memories and is probably selective, favoring particularly those memories that are relevant for future behavior. Memory reactivations occur spontaneously after learning, mainly during slow-wave sleep (SWS), but can also be externally triggered by associated memory cues. The application of learning-associated odor cues during SWS lead to an immediate stabilization of new memories making these memories resistant against subsequent interference, while during the wake state similar odor reactivations result in a destabilization of memories making these memories susceptible to interfering inputs. Recent research further provided evidence that consolidation processes during sleep target selectively those memories that are relevant for the future. Relevance of memories can be signaled by different factors, e.g. expectancy of a retrieval test, instructions to remember, and monetary reward, all of which have been shown to improve memory consolidation during sleep. The prototype of future-relevant memory, i.e. prospective memory for intended actions, was found to benefit particularly from sleep. This evidence collectively suggests that memories are stabilized during sleep via covert reactivations and that there is some form of selection mechanism that determines which memories gain preferential access to sleep-dependent memory consolidation based on the relevance of these memories for future behavior.