The Role of Sleep in the Selective Reconsolidation of Declarative Memories
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While sleep has been shown to be involved in memory consolidation and the selective enhancement of newly acquired memories of future relevance (Wilhelm, et al., 2011), limited research has investigated the role of sleep or future relevance in processes of memory reconsolidation. The current research employed a list-method directed forgetting procedure in which participants learned two lists of syllable pairs on Night 1 and received directed forgetting instructions on Night 2. On Night 2, one group (Labile; n = 15) received a memory reactivation treatment consisting of reminders designed to return memories of the learned lists to a labile state. A second group (Stable, n = 16) received similar reminders designed to leave memories of the learned lists in their stable state. No differences in forgetting were found across the two lists or groups. However, a negative correlation between frontal delta (1 – 4 Hz) electroencephalographic (EEG) power during Early Stage 2 non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and forgetting of to-beremembered material was found exclusively in the Labile group (r = -.61, p < .05). Further, central theta (4 – 8 Hz ) EEG power during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was found to correlate with directed forgetting exclusively in the Labile group (r = .81, p < .001) and total forgetting in the Stable group (r = .50, p < .05). These observed relationships support the proposed hypothesis suggesting that sleep processes are involved in the reconsolidation of labile memories, and that this reconsolidation may be selective for memories of future relevance. A role for sleep in the beneficial reprocessing of memories through the selective reconsolidation of labile memories in NREM sleep and the weakening of memories in REM sleep is discussed.