Sleep promotes consolidation of emotional memory in healthy children but not in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

PLoS One. 2013 May 29;8(5):e65098. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065098. Print 2013.

Abstract

Fronto-limbic brain activity during sleep is believed to support the consolidation of emotional memories in healthy adults. Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is accompanied by emotional deficits coincidently caused by dysfunctional interplay of fronto-limbic circuits. This study aimed to examine the role of sleep in the consolidation of emotional memory in ADHD in the context of healthy development. 16 children with ADHD, 16 healthy children, and 20 healthy adults participated in this study. Participants completed an emotional picture recognition paradigm in sleep and wake control conditions. Each condition had an immediate (baseline) and delayed (target) retrieval session. The emotional memory bias was baseline-corrected, and groups were compared in terms of sleep-dependent memory consolidation (sleep vs. wake). We observed an increased sleep-dependent emotional memory bias in healthy children compared to children with ADHD and healthy adults. Frontal oscillatory EEG activity (slow oscillations, theta) during sleep correlated negatively with emotional memory performance in children with ADHD. When combining data of healthy children and adults, correlation coefficients were positive and differed from those in children with ADHD. Since children displayed a higher frontal EEG activity than adults these data indicate a decline in sleep-related consolidation of emotional memory in healthy development. In addition, it is suggested that deficits in sleep-related selection between emotional and non-emotional memories in ADHD exacerbate emotional problems during daytime as they are often reported in ADHD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Electrooculography
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant of the German research foundation (SFB 654, Plasticity and Sleep). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.