Bidirectional prefrontal-hippocampal dynamics organize information transfer during sleep in humans

Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 8;10(1):3572. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11444-x.


How are memories transferred from short-term to long-term storage? Systems-level memory consolidation is thought to be dependent on the coordinated interplay of cortical slow waves, thalamo-cortical sleep spindles and hippocampal ripple oscillations. However, it is currently unclear how the selective interaction of these cardinal sleep oscillations is organized to support information reactivation and transfer. Here, using human intracranial recordings, we demonstrate that the prefrontal cortex plays a key role in organizing the ripple-mediated information transfer during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. We reveal a temporally precise form of coupling between prefrontal slow-wave and spindle oscillations, which actively dictates the hippocampal-neocortical dialogue and information transfer. Our results suggest a model of the human sleeping brain in which rapid bidirectional interactions, triggered by the prefrontal cortex, mediate hippocampal activation to optimally time subsequent information transfer to the neocortex during NREM sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / therapy
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Polysomnography
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Sleep, Slow-Wave / physiology*
  • Young Adult