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Sleep Improves Memory: The Effect of Sleep on Long Term Memory in Early Adolescence
Published: Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Author: Katya Trudeau Potkin et al.

by Katya Trudeau Potkin, William E. Bunney

Sleep plays an important role in the consolidation of memory. This has been most clearly shown in adults for procedural memory (i.e. skills and procedures) and declarative memory (e.g. recall of facts). The effects of sleep and memory are relatively unstudied in adolescents. Declarative memory is important in school performance and consequent social functioning in adolescents. This is the first study to specifically examine the effects of normal sleep on auditory declarative memory in an early adolescent sample. Given that the majority of adolescents do not obtain the recommended amount of sleep, it is critical to study the cognitive effects of normal sleep. Forty male and female normal, healthy adolescents between the ages of ten and fourteen years old were randomly assigned to sleep and no sleep conditions. Subjects were trained on a paired-associate declarative memory task and a control working memory task at 9am, and tested at night (12 hours later) without sleep. The same number of subjects was trained at 9pm and tested 9am following sleep. An increase of 20.6% in declarative memory, as measured by the number correct in a paired-associate test, following sleep was observed compared to the group which was tested at the same time interval without sleep (p<0.03). The performance on the control working memory task that involved encoding and memoranda manipulation was not affected by time of day or relationship to sleep. Declarative memory is significantly improved by sleep in a sample of normal adolescents.
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