Coupling of Thalamocortical Sleep Oscillations Are Important for Memory Consolidation in Humans

Mohammad Niknazar, Giri P Krishnan, Maxim Bazhenov, Sara C Mednick
PloS One 2015, 10 (12): e0144720
Sleep, specifically non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, is thought to play a critical role in the consolidation of recent memories. Two main oscillatory activities observed during NREM, cortical slow oscillations (SO, 0.5-1.0 Hz) and thalamic spindles (12-15 Hz), have been shown to independently correlate with memory improvement. Yet, it is not known how these thalamocortical events interact, or the significance of this interaction, during the consolidation process. Here, we found that systemic administration of the GABAergic drug (zolpidem) increased both the phase-amplitude coupling between SO and spindles, and verbal memory improvement in humans. These results suggest that thalamic spindles that occur during transitions to the cortical SO Up state are optimal for memory consolidation. Our study predicts that the timely interactions between cortical and thalamic events during consolidation, contribute to memory improvement and is mediated by the level of inhibitory neurotransmission.

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