Sleep not just protects memories against forgetting, it also makes them more accessible
Author version available under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License
Reason for embargo
Two published datasets (Dumay & Gaskell, 2007, Psychological Science; Tamminen, Payne, Stickgold, Wamsley, & Gaskell, 2010, Journal of Neuroscience) showing a positive influence of sleep on declarative memory were re-analyzed, focusing on the "fate" of each item at the 0-hr test and 12-hr retest. In particular, I looked at which items were retrieved at test, and "maintained" (i.e., not forgotten) at retest, and which items were not retrieved at test, but eventually "gained" at retest. This gave me separate estimates of protection against loss and memory enhancement, which the classic approach relying on net recall/recognition levels has remained blind to. In both free recall and recognition, the likelihood of maintaining an item between test and retest, like that of gaining one at retest, was higher when the retention interval was filled with nocturnal sleep, as opposed to day-time (active) wakefulness. And, in both cases, the effect of sleep was stronger on gained than maintained items. Thus, if sleep indeed protects against retroactive, unspecific interference, it also clearly promotes access to those memories initially too weak to be retrieved. These findings call for an integrated approach including both passive (cell-level) and active (systems-level) consolidation, possibly unfolding in an opportunistic fashion.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 74, pp. 289–296