The role of sleep in cognitive processing: focusing on memory consolidation

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. 2017 May;8(3). doi: 10.1002/wcs.1433. Epub 2017 Jan 3.


Research indicates that sleep promotes various cognitive functions, such as decision-making, language, categorization, and memory. Of these, most work has focused on the influence of sleep on memory, with ample work showing that sleep enhances memory consolidation, a process that stores new memories in the brain over time. Recent psychological and neurophysiological research has vastly increased understanding of this process. Such work not only suggests that consolidation relies on plasticity-related mechanisms that reactivate and stabilize memory representations, but also that this process may be experimentally manipulated by methods that target which memory traces are reactivated during sleep. Furthermore, aside from memory storage capabilities, memory consolidation also appears to reorganize and integrate memories with preexisting knowledge, which may facilitate the discovery of underlying rules and associations that benefit other cognitive functioning, including problem solving and creativity. WIREs Cogn Sci 2017, 8:e1433. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1433 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Creativity
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep*