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Evidence that memories are consolidated during sleep

DURHAM, N.C., -- By exposing rats to novel objects and measuring their brain signals, Duke University researchers have detected telltale signal reverberations in wide areas of the brain during sleep that reveal the process of consolidating memories. According to the researchers, their findings offer important evidence that extensive regions of the brain are involved in processing memories during a particular form of sleep, called slow-wave sleep.

The researchers said their findings lay to rest previous doubts that sleep enables consolidation of newly acquired memories, and also establishes roles for both slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in memory consolidation. Slow-wave sleep is a deep dreamless sleep, and REM sleep is associated with dreaming.

The researchers published their findings on Jan. 19, 2004, in the online Public Library of Science (http://www.plos.org). Senior author on the paper was Miguel Nicolelis, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology and of biomedical engineering, who is also co-director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. Lead author was Sidarta Ribeiro, Ph.D., in Nicolelis's laboratory. Other co authors were neurobiologists Damien Gervasoni, Ph.D., Ernesto Soares, Yi Zhou, Shih-Chieh Lin, M.D., and Janaina Pantoja; and Michael Lavine, Ph.D., of the Duke Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences. Their work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Pew Latin American Program.

In their study, the researchers placed about 100 infinitesimal recording electrodes in the brains of rats, in four regions involved in memory formation and sensory processing. Those brain areas included the hippocampus, which is widely believed to be involved in memory storage, and areas of the forebrain involved in rodent-specific behaviors. The scientists employed the same neural recording technology that Nicolelis and his colleagues used to enable monkeys to control a robot ar
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Contact: Dennis Meredith
dennis.meredith@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University Medical Center
19-Jan-2004


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