Poster D3, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Is this my rubber ducky? Does sleep benefit memory specificity or memory generalization?
Sarah Witkowski1, Leonardo E. Dionisio1, Jessica D. Creery1, Ken A. Paller1; 1Northwestern University
During sleep, memories can be strengthened through replay. Whereas replay may generally be engaged spontaneously, it can also be directed using sounds associated with learning. This process of cueing memories during sleep is called targeted memory reactivation (TMR). Sleep may be useful not only for strengthening memories during replay but also for an abstraction process whereby specific memories come to support generalized schemas or gist. In this study, we investigated the extent to which memory replay during sleep has consequences for whether memories retain details or become generalized, using a paradigm that puts these two forces into opposition. Participants learned the locations of 64 objects on a grid. Each object was associated with a semantically related sound. After a pre-nap test of this spatial knowledge, participants took a 90-minute nap during sounds were presented softly during slow-wave sleep (32 sounds presented at least once, mean 3.5 times). Upon waking, participants were given a surprise memory test in which they endorsed each of 96 displayed objects as either old (seen before), similar (same category as one seen before), or new. Afterwards, they re-took the spatial memory test with all old objects. Initial analyses focused on results from participants who achieved high levels of learning prior to sleep. TMR produced a relative benefit for spatial recall accuracy, whereas generalization, as indexed by mistaking similar objects for old objects, was not increased by TMR. Results thus supported the idea that reactivation during sleep in these circumstances enhanced specific memories, but didn’t affect generalization.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Other