Top-down cortical input during NREM sleep consolidates perceptual memory

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1315-1318
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0902

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Perceptual memory needs slow-wave sleep

We know little about the mechanisms by which the brain consolidates nondeclarative (perceptual) memories. In a series of behavioral, optogenetic, and electrophysiological experiments, Miyamoto et al. show that coordinated neuronal information flow during sleep is required for perceptual memory formation. Activity spreading from the secondary motor area (brain area M2) to the primary sensory region S1 is necessary for this particular kind of memory consolidation. Disturbing this coordinated input during slow-wave sleep immediately after memory acquisition prevented mice from learning a simple texture discrimination task.

Science, this issue p. 1315


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 awake 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-deprivation states, closed-loop asynchronous or synchronous M2-S1 coactivation, 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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