Sleep bolsters schematically incongruent memories

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Our ability to recall memories is improved when sleep follows learning, suggesting that sleep facilitates memory consolidation. A number of factors are thought to influence the impact of sleep on newly learned information, such as whether or not we rehearse that information (e.g. via restudy or retrieval practice), or the extent to which the information is consistent with our pre-existing schematic knowledge. In this pre-registered, online study, we examined the effects of both rehearsal and schematic congruency on overnight consolidation. Participants learned noun-colour pairings (e.g. elephant-red) and rated each pairing as plausible or implausible before completing a baseline memory assessment. Afterwards, participants engaged in a period of restudy or retrieval practice for the pairings, and then entered a 12 h retention interval of overnight sleep or daytime wakefulness. Follow-up assessments were completed immediately after sleep or wake, and again 24 h after learning. Our data indicated that overnight consolidation was amplified for restudied relative to retested noun-colour pairings, but only when sleep occurred soon after learning. Furthermore, whereas plausible (i.e. schematically congruent) pairings were generally better remembered than implausible (i.e. schematically incongruent) pairings, the benefits of sleep were stronger for implausible relative to plausible memories. These findings challenge the notion that schema-conformant memories are preferentially strengthened during post-learning sleep.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0269439
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2022

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