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Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGottschling DE, David JR, Gibert P, Moreteau B, Gilchrist GW, Huey RB, Gust J
Date Published2016

STUDY OBJECTIVES: Sleep is important for consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories. It is hypothesized that the temporal sequence of nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is critical for the weakening of nonadaptive memories and the subsequent transfer of memories temporarily stored in the hippocampus to more permanent memories in the neocortex. A great body of evidence supporting this hypothesis relies on behavioral, pharmacological, neural, and/or genetic manipulations that induce sleep deprivation or stage-specific sleep deprivation.

STUDY OBJECTIVES: We exploit an experimental model of circadian desynchrony in which intact animals are not deprived of any sleep stage but show fragmentation of REM and NREM sleep within nonfragmented sleep bouts. We test the hypothesis that the shortening of NREM and REM sleep durations posttraining will impair memory consolidation irrespective of total sleep duration.

RESULTS: When circadian-desynchronized animals are trained in a hippocampus-dependent contextual fear-conditioning task they show normal short-term memory but impaired long-term memory consolidation. This impairment in memory consolidation is positively associated with the posttraining fragmentation of REM and NREM sleep but is not significantly associated with the fragmentation of total sleep or the total amount of delta activity. We also show that the sleep stage fragmentation resulting from circadian desynchrony has no effect on hippocampus-dependent spatial memory and no effect on hippocampus-independent cued fear-conditioning memory.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings in an intact animal model, in which sleep deprivation is not a confounding factor, support the hypothesis that the stereotypic sequence and duration of sleep stages play a specific role in long-term hippocampus-dependent fear memory consolidation.