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Schönauer, M.; Alizadeh, S.; Jamalabadi, H.; Abraham, A.; Pawlizki, A.; Gais, S. (2017): Decoding material-specific memory reprocessing during sleep in humans. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 8, 15404


Neuronal learning activity is reactivated during sleep but the dynamics of this reactivation in humans are still poorly understood. Here we use multivariate pattern classification to decode electrical brain activity during sleep and determine what type of images participants had viewed in a preceding learning session. We find significant patterns of learning-related processing during rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep, which are generalizable across subjects. This processing occurs in a cyclic fashion during time windows congruous to critical periods of synaptic plasticity. Its spatial distribution over the scalp and relevant frequencies differ between NREM and REM sleep. Moreover, only the strength of reprocessing in slow-wave sleep influenced later memory performance, speaking for at least two distinct underlying mechanisms between these states. We thus show that memory reprocessing occurs in both NREM and REM sleep in humans and that it pertains to different aspects of the consolidation process.