Cerebral activity associated with transient sleep-facilitated reduction in motor memory vulnerability to interference

Geneviève Albouy, Bradley R. King, Christina Schmidt, Martin Desseilles, Thien Thanh Dang-Vu, Evelyne Balteau, Christophe Phillips, Christian Degueldre, Pierre Orban, Habib Benali, Philippe Peigneux, André Luxen, Avi Karni, Julien Doyon, Pierre Maquet, Maria Korman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motor memory consolidation is characterized, in part, by a sleep-facilitated decrease in susceptibility to subsequent interfering experiences. Surprisingly, the cerebral substrates supporting this phenomenon have never been examined. We used fMRI to investigate the neural correlates of the influence of sleep on interference to motor memory consolidation. Healthy young adults were trained on a sequential motor task, and subsequently practiced a second competing sequence after an interval including diurnal sleep or wakefulness. Participants were then retested on the initial sequence 8 h and 24 h (including nocturnal sleep) after training. Results demonstrated that a post-training nap significantly protected memory against interference at 8 h and modulated the link between cerebral activity and behavior, such that a smaller post-interference decrease in cortico-striatal activity was associated with better performance. Interestingly, the protective effect of a nap was only transitory, as both groups performed similarly at 24 h. Activity in cortico-striatal areas that was disrupted during the day, presumably due to interference and accentuated in the absence of a nap, was restored overnight. Altogether, our findings offer the first evidence that cortico-striatal areas play a critical role in the transient sleep-facilitated reduction in motor memory vulnerability and in the overnight restoration of previously degraded memories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34948
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2016

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© 2016 The Authors.

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