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How sleep helps us learn and memorize

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IMAGE: Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. Research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both strengthen... view more

Credit: Blanco et al.

Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. Research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both strengthen and weaken, which prompts the forgetting, strengthening or modification of our memories in a process known as long-term potentiation (LTP).

Researchers led by Sidarta Ribeiro at the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, measured the levels of a protein related to LTP during the sleep cycle of rats. The authors then used the data to build models of sleep-dependent synaptic plasticity.

The results show that sleep can have completely different effects depending on whether LTP is present or not. A lack of LTP leads to memory erasure, while the presence of LTP can either strengthen memories or prompt the emergence of new ones.

The research provides an empirical and theoretical framework to understand the mechanisms underlying the complex role of sleep for learning, which involves selective remembering as well as creativity.

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Image Credit: Blanco et al. Image Link: https://www.plos.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Blanco-18-May.jpg

All works published in PLOS Computational Biology are Open Access, which means that all content is immediately and freely available. Use this URL in your coverage to provide readers access to the paper upon publication: http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004241

Press-only preview: https://www.plos.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/pcbi.1004241-Blanco.pdf

Contact:

Sidarta Ribeiro
Address: Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
Brain Institute
Av. Nascimento de Castro 2155
Natal, RN 59056-450
BRAZIL
Phone: 55 84 3215 2706
Email: sidartaribeiro@gmail.com

Citation: Blanco W, Pereira CM, Cota VR, Souza AC, Rennó-Costa C, Santos S, et al. (2015) Synaptic Homeostasis and Restructuring across the Sleep-Wake Cycle. PLoS Comput Biol 11(5): e1004241.doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004241

Funding: Support obtained from Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (http://www.finep.gov.br/) Grant #01.06.1092.00 to SR; Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (http://www.cnpq.br/): Grants 481506/2007-1, 481351/2011-6 and 306604/2012-4 to SR, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (http://www.capes.gov.br/) and Ciencias sem Fronteiras (http://www.cienciasemfronteiras.gov.br/web/csf/home) to AT and CRC; Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Rio Grande do Norte (http://www.fapern.rn.gov.br/): Grant Pronem 003/2011 to SR; Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (http://www.fapesp.br/): Grant #2013/ 07699-0 - Center for Neuromathematics to SR; CMP and VRC supported by post-doctoral fellowships from Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Rio Grande do Norte /CNPq. Additional support obtained from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (http://www.ufrn.br); Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (http://www.mcti.gov.br/); Associação Alberto Santos Dumont de Apoio à Pesquisa (http://natalneuro.com/associacao/index.asp); Pew Latin American Fellows Program (http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/pewlatin-american-fellows/) to SR; Informatics Department of the Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Rio Grande do Norte (http://portal.ifrn.edu.br/) to WB. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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