When an episode of emotional significance is encountered, it often results in the formation of a highly resistant memory representation that is easily retrieved for many succeeding years. Recent research shows that beyond generic consolidation processes, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep importantly contributes to this effect. However, the boundary conditions of consolidation processes during REM sleep, specifically whether these extend to source memory, have not been examined extensively. The current study tested the effects of putative consolidation processes emerging during REM sleep and slow wave sleep (SWS) on item and source memory of negative and neutral images, respectively. Results demonstrate superior emotional relative to neutral item memory retention after both late night REM sleep and early night SWS. Emotional source memory, on the other hand, exhibited an attenuated decline following late night REM sleep, whereas neutral source memory was selectively preserved across early night SWS. This pattern of results suggests a selective preservation of emotional source memory during REM sleep that is functionally dissociable from SWS-dependent reprocessing of neutral source memory. This was further substantiated by a neurophysiological dissociation: Postsleep emotional source memory was selectively correlated with frontal theta lateralization (REM sleep), whereas postsleep neutral item memory was correlated with SWS spindle power. As such, the present results contribute to a more comprehensive characterization of sleep-related consolidation mechanisms underlying emotional and neutral memory retention. Subsidiary analysis of emotional reactivity to previously encoded material revealed an enhancing rather than attenuating effect of late night REM sleep on emotional responses.
Cognitive, Affective, & Behaviorial Neuroscience – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 23, 2017
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