Understanding how unwanted memories persist: The role of sleep spindles in emotional memory consolidation

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details


Traumatic events are hard to forget. While memories of emotionally-charged experiences help to guide future behaviour, their persistence can have a damaging effect on mental health and wellbeing. Understanding the biological factors that promote the perseverance of unwanted memories is therefore vital for combating affective disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress
disorder. Sleep strengthens memories for negative experiences, rendering them resistant to forgetting. This project examines the mechanisms by which sleep preserves emotional memories in two work packages (WPs). In WP1, we experimentally reactivate emotional memories in the sleeping brain to confirm electrophysiological markers of affective memory processing. In WP2, we apply noninvasive auditory stimulation during sleep to modify the prevalence of these affective markers and determine the corresponding effects on emotional memory retention. This project will lay the essential groundwork for a larger-scale, systematic investigation of memory modification in sleep, opening the door to new therapeutic targets.
Effective start/end date1/03/1931/10/19