Competing Roles of Slow Oscillations and Delta Waves in Memory Consolidation versus Forgetting

Cell. 2019 Oct 3;179(2):514-526.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.040.


Sleep has been implicated in both memory consolidation and forgetting of experiences. However, it is unclear what governs the balance between consolidation and forgetting. Here, we tested how activity-dependent processing during sleep might differentially regulate these two processes. We specifically examined how neural reactivations during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep were causally linked to consolidation versus weakening of the neural correlates of neuroprosthetic skill. Strikingly, we found that slow oscillations (SOs) and delta (δ) waves have dissociable and competing roles in consolidation versus forgetting. By modulating cortical spiking linked to SOs or δ waves using closed-loop optogenetic methods, we could, respectively, weaken or strengthen consolidation and thereby bidirectionally modulate sleep-dependent performance gains. We further found that changes in the temporal coupling of spindles to SOs relative to δ waves could account for such effects. Thus, our results indicate that neural activity driven by SOs and δ waves have competing roles in sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

Keywords: brain machine interfaces; delta waves; forgetting; learning; memory consolidation; sleep; slow oscillation; spindles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Delta Rhythm*
  • Male
  • Memory Consolidation / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Sleep / physiology*