Learning-dependent changes in sleep spindles and Stage 2 sleep
It has become increasingly clear that sleep is necessary for efficient memory consolidation. Recently, it has been found that Stage 2 sleep disruption impairs procedural memory performance, and that memory performance is correlated with the duration of Stage 2 sleep; but the mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity for procedural memory during sleep have not been identified. The present study examined the learning-dependent changes in sleep, including Stage 2 sleep spindles. Following an intense period of simple motor procedural learning, the duration of Stage 2 sleep and spindle density increased. There were no changes observed in the duration of any other stage of sleep or in the density of rapid eye movements. These findings support the hypothesis that sleep spindles are involved in the off-line reprocessing of simple motor procedural memory during Stage 2 sleep.