Experience-dependent changes in cerebral functional connectivity during human rapid eye movement sleep

Neuroscience. 2001;105(3):521-5. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(01)00269-x.


One function of sleep is hypothesized to be the reprocessing and consolidation of memory traces (Smith, 1995; Gais et al., 2000; McGaugh, 2000; Stickgold et al., 2000). At the cellular level, neuronal reactivations during post-training sleep in animals have been observed in hippocampal (Wilson and McNaughton, 1994) and cortical (Amzica et al., 1997) neuronal populations. At the systems level, using positron emission tomography, we have recently shown that some brain areas reactivated during rapid-eye-movement sleep in human subjects previously trained on an implicit learning task (a serial reaction time task) (Maquet et al., 2000). These cortical reactivations, located in the left premotor area and bilateral cuneus, were thought to reflect the reprocessing--possibly the consolidation--of memory traces during post-training rapid-eye-movement sleep. Here, the experience-dependent functional connectivity of these brain regions is examined. It is shown that the left premotor cortex is functionally more correlated with the left posterior parietal cortex and bilateral pre-supplementary motor area during rapid-eye-movement sleep of subjects previously trained to the reaction time task compared to rapid-eye-movement sleep of untrained subjects. The increase in functional connectivity during post-training rapid-eye-movement sleep suggests that the brain areas reactivated during post-training rapid-eye-movement sleep participate in the optimization of the network that subtends subject's visuo-motor response. The optimization of this visuo-motor network during sleep could explain the gain in performance observed during the following day.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed