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Keywords:

  • declarative;
  • interference;
  • learning;
  • memory consolidation;
  • nap;
  • sleep

Summary

Studies suggest that the consolidation of newly acquired memories and underlying long-term synaptic plasticity might represent a major function of sleep. In a combined repeated-measures and parallel-group sleep laboratory study (active waking versus sleep, passive waking versus sleep), we provide evidence that brief periods of daytime sleep (42.1 ± 8.9 min of non-rapid eye movement sleep) in healthy adolescents (16 years old, all female), compared with equal periods of waking, promote the consolidation of declarative memory (word-pairs) in participants with high power in the electroencephalographic sleep spindle (sigma) frequency range. This observation supports the notion that sleep-specific brain activity when reaching a critical dose, beyond a mere reduction of interference, promotes synaptic plasticity in a hippocampal-neocortical network that underlies the consolidation of declarative memory.