MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Long-term memory after an experience takes many hours to be reach its final form. During the consolidation period, the nascent memory is labile: the consolidation can be interrupted by new experiences, or new experiences that are too insignificant to be remembered can capture the consolidation process, and thereby be remembered.
To avoid potentially maladaptive interactions between a new experience and consolidation, a major portion of the consolidation is deferred to the time in which we sleep, when new experiences are unlikely. For over 100 years, studies have demonstrated that sleep improves memory formation. More recent studies have shown that consolidation occurs during sleep, and that consolidation depends on the synthesis of products that support memory formation. Consolidation is unlikely to be shut off immediately when we are awakened from sleep. At this time, even a transient experience could capture the consolidation, leading to a long-lasting memory of an event that should not be remembered, or could interfere with the consolidation. We have identified a mechanism that prevents long-term memories from being formed by experiences that occur when awakened from sleep.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Treating subjects with an inhibitor of protein synthesis, and then awakening them from sleep, allows even an ephemeral experience that does not produce long-term memory when animals are awake to produce long-term memory. This finding shows that an active protein synthesis dependent memory blocker prevents new experiences from producing long-term memory when awakened from sleep, and when this process is removed long-term memory is more easily produced. This is because the consolidation process that occurs during sleep supports the formation of a new memory.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: There are active processes that prevent experiences during sleep, or when awakened from sleep, from leading to long-term memory.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: It is important to identify the memory blocker. In addition to explaining why memories are not formed when we sleep and the mechanism by which memory can be suppressed, it may be useful therapeutically in many contexts in which it is not adaptive for an experience to produce long-term memory.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
New learning while consolidating memory during sleep is actively blocked by a protein synthesis dependent process
Roi Levy ,David Levitan, Abraham J Susswein
Bar Ilan University, Israel
Published December 6, 2016
Cite as eLife 2016;5:e17769
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