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Free Content Sleep restriction can attenuate prioritization benefits on declarative memory consolidation

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As chronic sleep restriction is a widespread problem among adolescents, the present study investigated the effects of a 1‐week sleep restriction (SR) versus control period on the consolidation of long‐term memory for prose passages. We also determined whether the benefit of prioritization on memory is modulated by adequate sleep occurring during consolidation. Fifty‐six healthy adolescents (25 male, aged 15–19 years) were instructed to remember a prose passage in which half of the content was highlighted (prioritized), and were told that they would receive an additional bonus for remembering highlighted content. Following an initial free recall test, participants underwent a 7‐night period in which they received either a 5‐h (SR) or 9‐h (control) nightly sleep opportunity, monitored by polysomnography on selected nights. Free recall of the passage was tested at the end of the sleep manipulation period (1 week after encoding), and again 6 weeks after encoding. Recall of highlighted content was superior to that of non‐highlighted content at all three time‐points (initial, 1 week, 6 weeks). This beneficial effect of prioritization on memory was stronger 1 week relative to a few minutes after encoding for the control, but not the SR group. N3 duration was similar in the control and SR groups. Overall, the present study shows that the benefits of prioritization on memory are enhanced over time, requiring time and sleep to unfold fully. Partial sleep deprivation (i.e. 5‐h nocturnal sleep opportunity) may attenuate such benefits, but this may be offset by preservation of N3 sleep duration.
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Keywords: adolescents; memory; preferential consolidation; reward; sleep; sleep loss

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2016

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