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Elevated sleep spindle density after learning or after retrieval in rats


Eschenko,  O
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Eschenko, O., Mölle M, Born, J., & Sara, S. (2006). Elevated sleep spindle density after learning or after retrieval in rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 26(50), 12914-12920. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3175-06.2006.

Non-rapid eye movement sleep has been strongly implicated in consolidation of both declarative and procedural memory in humans. Elevated sleep-spindle density in slow-wave sleep after learning has been shown recently in humans. It has been proposed that sleep spindles, 12-15 Hz oscillations superimposed on slow waves (amp;lt;1 Hz), in concert with high-frequency hippocampal sharp waves/ripples, promote neural plasticity underlying remote memory formation. The present study reports the first indication of learning-associated increase in spindle density in the rat, providing an animal model to study the role of brain oscillations in memory consolidation during sleep. An odor-reward association task, analogous in many respects to human paired-associate learning, is rapidly learned and leads to robust memory in rats. Rats learned the task over 10 massed trials within a single session, and EEG was monitored for 3 h after learning. Learning-induced increase in spindle density is reliably reprodu ced in r ats in two different learning situations, differing primarily in the behavioral component of the task. This increase in spindle density is also present after reactivation of remote memory and in situations when memory update is required; it is not observed after noncontingent exposure to reward and training context. The latter results substantially extend findings in humans. The magnitude of increase (approximately 25) and the time window of maximal effect (approximately 1 h after sleep onset) were remarkably similar to human data, making this a valid rodent model to study network interactions through the use of simultaneous unit recordings and local field potentials during postlearning sleep.