Sleep, memory, and plasticity

Annu Rev Psychol. 2006;57:139-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070307.


Although the functions of sleep remain largely unknown, one of the most exciting hypotheses is that sleep contributes importantly to processes of memory and brain plasticity. Over the past decade, a large body of work, spanning most of the neurosciences, has provided a substantive body of evidence supporting this role of sleep in what is becoming known as sleep-dependent memory processing. We review these findings, focusing specifically on the role of sleep in (a) memory encoding, (b) memory consolidation, (c) brain plasticity, and (d) memory reconsolidation; we finish with a summary of the field and its potential future directions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Sleep / physiology*