Top-down cortical input during NREM sleep consolidates perceptual memory

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Science  26 May 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0902

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During tactile perception, long-range intracortical top-down axonal projections are essential for processing sensory information. Whether these projections regulate sleep-dependent long-term memory consolidation is unknown. We altered top-down inputs from higher order cortex to sensory cortex during sleep and examined the consolidation of memories acquired earlier during waking texture perception. Mice learned novel textures and consolidated them during sleep. Within the first hour of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, optogenetic inhibition of top-down projecting axons from secondary motor cortex (M2) to primary somatosensory cortex (S1) impaired sleep-dependent reactivation of S1 neurons and memory consolidation. In NREM sleep and sleep-deprived states, closed-loop asynchronous or synchronous M2-S1 co-activation, respectively, reduced or prolonged memory retention. Top-down cortical information flow in NREM sleep is thus required for perceptual memory consolidation.

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