Brain rhythms regulate information processing in different states to enable learning and memory formation. The <1 Hz sleep slow oscillation hallmarks slow-wave sleep and is critical to memory consolidation. Here we show in sleeping humans that auditory stimulation in phase with the ongoing rhythmic occurrence of slow oscillation up states profoundly enhances the slow oscillation rhythm, phase-coupled spindle activity, and, consequently, the consolidation of declarative memory. Stimulation out of phase with the ongoing slow oscillation rhythm remained ineffective. Closed-loop in-phase stimulation provides a straight-forward tool to enhance sleep rhythms and their functional efficacy.
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