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Journal Article

Sleep strengthens integration of spatial memory systems


Doeller,  Christian F.
Egil and Pauline Braathen and Fred Kavli Centre for Cortical Microcircuits, Kavli Institute, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
Department Psychology (Doeller), MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Noack, H., Doeller, C. F., & Born, J. (2021). Sleep strengthens integration of spatial memory systems. Learning & memory, 28, 162-170. doi:10.1101/lm.053249.120.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-4A59-2
Spatial memory comprises different representational systems that are sensitive to different environmental cues, like proximal landmarks or local boundaries. Here we examined how sleep affects the formation of a spatial representation integrating landmark-referenced and boundary-referenced representations. To this end, participants (n = 42) were familiarized with an environment featuring both a proximal landmark and a local boundary. After nocturnal periods of sleep or wakefulness and another night of sleep, integration of the two representational systems was tested by testing the participant's flexibility to switch from landmark-based to boundary-based navigation in the environment, and vice versa. Results indicate a distinctly increased flexibility in relying on either landmarks or boundaries for navigation, when familiarization to the environment was followed by sleep rather than by wakefulness. A second control study (n = 45) did not reveal effects of sleep (vs. wakefulness) on navigation in environments featuring only landmarks or only boundaries. Thus, rather than strengthening isolated representational systems per se, sleep presumably through forming an integrative representation, enhances flexible coordination of representational subsystems.