Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Rehearsal initiates systems memory consolidation, sleep makes it last

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Science Advances  24 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaav1695
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav1695


After encoding, memories undergo a transitional process termed systems memory consolidation. It allows fast acquisition of new information by the hippocampus, as well as stable storage in neocortical long-term networks, where memory is protected from interference. Whereas this process is generally thought to occur slowly over time and sleep, we recently found a rapid memory systems transition from hippocampus to posterior parietal cortex (PPC) that occurs over repeated rehearsal within one study session. Here, we use fMRI to demonstrate that this transition is stabilized over sleep, whereas wakefulness leads to a reset to naïve responses, such as observed during early encoding. The role of sleep therefore seems to go beyond providing additional rehearsal through memory trace reactivation, as previously thought. We conclude that repeated study induces systems consolidation, while sleep ensures that these transformations become stable and long lasting. Thus, sleep and repeated rehearsal jointly contribute to long-term memory consolidation.

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