Targeted memory reactivation of newly learned words during sleep triggers REM-mediated integration of new memories and existing knowledge

Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2017 Jan;137:77-82. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2016.11.012. Epub 2016 Nov 15.


Recent memories are spontaneously reactivated during sleep, leading to their gradual strengthening. Whether reactivation also mediates the integration of new memories with existing knowledge is unknown. We used targeted memory reactivation (TMR) during slow-wave sleep (SWS) to selectively cue reactivation of newly learned spoken words. While integration of new words into their phonological neighbourhood was observed in both cued and uncued words after sleep, TMR-triggered integration was predicted by the time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These data support complementary roles for SWS and REM in memory consolidation.

Keywords: Memory; Memory consolidation; Sleep; Targeted memory reactivation.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Vocabulary
  • Young Adult