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Poster E17

Exploring the effect of sleep structure on internalizing symptoms and emotional memory: preliminary evidence

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Xinran Niu1 (, Kristin Sanders1, Tony Cunningham2,3, Elizabeth Kensinger2, Jessica Payne1; 1University of Notre Dame, 2Boston College, 3Harvard Medical School

Altered sleep characteristics, including increased Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and decreased Slow-wave sleep (SWS), are putative risk factors for high internalizing symptoms. Prior research has shown associations between REM sleep and emotional memory consolidation, and between SWS and neutral memory consolidation, although the evidence is mixed. This study examines REM and SWS as predictors for internalizing symptoms of general distress, anhedonia, anxious arousal, and anxious apprehension, as well as negative and neutral episodic memories. Healthy adults encoded scenes featuring either negative objects (e.g., a snake) or neutral objects (e.g., a chipmunk) placed on neutral backgrounds (e.g., an outdoor scene). After a 12-hour of wakefulness or sleep, participants indicated whether an object or a background was old or new compared to what they encountered during encoding. All participants completed one night of laboratory-monitored polysomnography, and reported internalizing symptoms using the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. The percentage of SWS significantly predicted lower anhedonia and anxious apprehension, and better memory for neutral objects. In contrast, REM sleep was associated with higher general distress and anxious apprehension, and predicted better memory for negative objects, although not significantly. Descriptively, REM was related to better memory for negative objects than neutral ones, while SWS was linked to similar memory performance across negative and neutral objects. Interventions targeting sleep characteristics, such as increasing SWS and decreasing REM sleep, could potentially alleviate internalizing symptoms and mitigate negative memory bias.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024