Slow wave sleep and accelerated forgetting.
Atherton KE., Nobre AC., Lazar AS., Wulff K., Whittaker RG., Dhawan V., Lazar ZI., Zeman AZ., Butler CR.
We investigated whether the benefit of slow wave sleep (SWS) for memory consolidation typically observed in healthy individuals is disrupted in people with accelerated long-term forgetting (ALF) due to epilepsy. SWS is thought to play an active role in declarative memory in healthy individuals and, furthermore, electrographic epileptiform activity is often more prevalent during SWS than during wakefulness or other sleep stages. We studied the relationship between SWS and the benefit of sleep for memory retention using a word-pair associates task. In both the ALF and the healthy control groups, sleep conferred a memory benefit. However, the relationship between the amount of SWS and sleep-related memory benefits differed significantly between the groups. In healthy participants, the amount of SWS correlated positively with sleep-related memory benefits. In stark contrast, the more SWS, the smaller the sleep-related memory benefit in the ALF group. Therefore, contrary to its role in healthy people, SWS-associated brain activity appears to be deleterious for memory in patients with ALF.