Sleep is known to benefit consolidation of memories, especially those of motivational relevance. Yet, it remains largely unknown the extent to which sleep influences reward-associated behavior, in particular, whether and how sleep modulates reward evaluation that critically underlies value-based decisions. Here, we show that neural processing during sleep can selectively bias preferences in simple economic choices when the sleeper is stimulated by covert, reward-associated cues. Specifically, presenting the spoken name of a familiar, valued snack item during midday nap significantly improves the preference for that item relative to items not externally cued. The cueing-specific preference enhancement is sleep-dependent and can be predicted by cue-induced neurophysiological signals at the subject and item level. Computational modeling further suggests that sleep cueing accelerates evidence accumulation for cued options during the post-sleep choice process in a manner consistent with the preference shift. These findings suggest that neurocognitive processing during sleep contributes to the fine-tuning of subjective preferences in a flexible, selective manner.
Keywords: decision-making; human; neuroscience; simple economic choices; sleep; subjective preferences.
© 2018, Ai et al.