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Sleep spindles provide indirect support to the consolidation of emotional encoding contexts

Cairney, Scott A., Durrant, Simon J., Jackson, Rebecca and Lewis, Penelope A. ORCID: 2014. Sleep spindles provide indirect support to the consolidation of emotional encoding contexts. Neuropsychologia 63 , pp. 285-292. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.09.016

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Emotional memories tend to be strengthened ahead of neutral memories during sleep-dependent consolidation. In recent work, however, we found that this is not the case when emotion pertains to the contextual features of a memory instead of its central constructs, suggesting that emotional contexts are influenced by distinct properties of sleep. We therefore examined the sleep-specific mechanisms supporting representations of emotional context and asked whether these differ to those already implicated in central emotional memory processing, such as rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Participants encoded neutral foreground images that were each associated with an emotionally negative or neutral background (context) image. Immediate and delayed tests for the emotionality of the foreground/background image association were separated by a 4-h consolidation period, which consisted of either total wakefulness or included a 2-h polysomnographically monitored nap. Although memory for negative contexts was not associated with REM, or any other parameter of sleep, sleep spindles (12–15 Hz) predicted increased forgetting and slowed response times for neutral contexts. Together with prior work linking spindles to emotional memory processing, our data may suggest that spindles provide multi-layered support to emotionally salient memories in sleep, with the nature of such effects depending on whether the emotionality of these memories pertains to their central or contextual features. Therefore, whereas spindles may mediate a direct strengthening of central emotional information, as suggested in prior work, they may also provide concurrent indirect support to emotional contexts by working to suppress non-salient neutral contexts.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords: Emotion; Context; Memory; Consolidation; Sleep spindles
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0028-3932
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 February 2017
Date of Acceptance: 7 September 2014
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 21:55

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