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Auditory stimulation during REM sleep modulates REM electrophysiology and cognitive performance

Navarrete, Miguel, Greco, Viviana, Rakowska, Martyna, Bellesi, Michele and Lewis, Penelope A. ORCID: 2024. Auditory stimulation during REM sleep modulates REM electrophysiology and cognitive performance. Communications Biology 7 (1) , 193. 10.1038/s42003-024-05825-2

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REM sleep is critical for memory, emotion, and cognition. Manipulating brain activity during REM could improve our understanding of its function and benefits. Earlier studies have suggested that auditory stimulation in REM might modulate REM time and reduce rapid eye movement density. Building on this, we studied the cognitive effects and electroencephalographic responses related to such stimulation. We used acoustic stimulation locked to eye movements during REM and compared two overnight conditions (stimulation and no-stimulation). We evaluated the impact of this stimulation on REM sleep duration and electrophysiology, as well as two REM-sensitive memory tasks: visual discrimination and mirror tracing. Our results show that this auditory stimulation in REM decreases the rapid eye movements that characterize REM sleep and improves performance on the visual task but is detrimental to the mirror tracing task. We also observed increased beta-band activity and decreased theta-band activity following stimulation. Interestingly, these spectral changes were associated with changes in behavioural performance. These results show that acoustic stimulation can modulate REM sleep and suggest that different memory processes underpin its divergent impacts on cognitive performance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2399-3642
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 February 2024
Date of Acceptance: 16 January 2024
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2024 16:15

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