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The Multidimensional Aspects of Sleep Spindles and Their Relationship to Word-Pair Memory Consolidation.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lustenberger Caroline, Wehrle Flavia, Tüshaus Laura, Achermann Peter, Huber Reto,
Project Sleep onset and other state transitions: insights from quantitative EEG analysis
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Sleep
Volume (Issue) 38(7)
Page(s) 1093 - 103
Title of proceedings Sleep
DOI 10.5665/sleep.4820


Several studies proposed a link between sleep spindles and sleep dependent memory consolidation in declarative learning tasks. In addition to these state-like aspects of sleep spindles, they have also trait-like characteristics, i.e., were related to general cognitive performance, an important distinction that has often been neglected in correlative studies. Furthermore, from the multitude of different sleep spindle measures, often just one specific aspect was analyzed. Thus, we aimed at taking multidimensional aspects of sleep spindles into account when exploring their relationship to word-pair memory consolidation. Each subject underwent 2 study nights with all-night high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings. Sleep spindles were automatically detected in all EEG channels. Subjects were trained and tested on a word-pair learning task in the evening, and retested in the morning to assess sleep related memory consolidation (overnight retention). Trait-like aspects refer to the mean of both nights and state-like aspects were calculated as the difference between night 1 and night 2. Sleep laboratory. Twenty healthy male subjects (age: 23.3 ± 2.1 y). Overnight retention was negatively correlated with trait-like aspects of fast sleep spindle density and positively with slow spindle density on a global level. In contrast, state-like aspects were observed for integrated slow spindle activity, which was positively related to the differences in overnight retention in specific regions. Our results demonstrate the importance of a multidimensional approach when investigating the relationship between sleep spindles and memory consolidation and thereby provide a more complete picture explaining divergent findings in the literature.