Rest-related consolidation protects the fine detail of new memories

Michael Craig, Michaela Dewar

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Abstract

Newly encoded memories are labile and consolidate over time. The importance of sleep in memory consolidation has been well known for almost a decade. However, recent research has shown that awake quiescence, too, can support consolidation: people remember more new memories if they quietly rest after encoding than if they engage in a task. It is not yet known how exactly this rest-related consolidation benefits new memories, and whether it affects the fine detail of new memories. Using a sensitive picture recognition task, we show that awake quiescence aids the fine detail of new memories. Young adults were significantly better at discriminating recently encoded target pictures from similar lure pictures when the initial encoding of target pictures had been followed immediately by 10 minutes of awake quiescence than an unrelated perceptual task. This novel finding indicates that, in addition to influencing how much we remember, our behavioural state during wakeful consolidation determines, at least in part, the level of fine detail of our new memories. Thus, our results suggest that rest-related consolidation protects the fine detail of new memories, allowing us to retain detailed memories.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6857
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Early online date1 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2018

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