ProjectEpisodic memory consolidation during sleep across development

Basic data

Episodic memory consolidation during sleep across development
9/1/2018 to 8/31/2021
Abstract / short description:
In the adult brain, sleep is known to support a consolidation process in the episodic memory system. This active type of consolidation relies on the fine-tuned
orchestration of sleep-oscillatory activity during slow wave sleep (SWS), specifically on the temporal nesting of neocortical slow oscillations, thalamic spindles, and hippocampal sharp wave-ripples accompanying neural reactivations of hippocampal representations. During development, the brain shows a tremendous potential for memory formation although essential structures
subserving episodic memory are immature. Against this backdrop, this project aims, in a combined
human/rodent approach, to characterize the development of episodic memory consolidation during
sleep. Specifically, we aim to describe in both species (i) at which developmental age episodic
memory and its components (what, where, when) emerge and start to benefit from sleep. (ii) We aim
to link the emergence of specific episodic memory components during development to the emergence of
specific oscillatory signatures of memory processing during sleep (slow oscillations, spindles,
sharp wave-ripples). (iii) We plan to demonstrate that the synchrony between the development of
episodic memory and its components and the EEG signatures of memory consolidation during sleep is
not merely a matter of maturation but can be accelerated by specific prior learning experience. To
test these hypotheses we designed a set of behavioral studies in human infants and in rodent pups
based on exploration paradigms that are directly comparable between species. To investigate the
sleep parameters of interest we will use surface EEG recordings in infants and surface and
hippocampal EEG recordings in rodents. Ultimately, the experiments will provide evidence for the
crucial role of sleep features in the capability to form consolidated episodic memory over the
course of development.
educational psychology
Pädagogische Psychologie
Kognitive Neurowissenschaft

Involved staff


Institute of Medical Psychology
Non-clinical institutes, Faculty of Medicine

Local organizational units

Institute of Medical Psychology
Non-clinical institutes
Faculty of Medicine


Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

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