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Time-dependent transformations of memory representations differ along the long axis of the hippocampus

Emily T. Cowan, Anli A. Liu, Simon Henin, Sanjeev Kothare, Orrin Devinsky, Lila Davachi
Published: 16 August 2021

Abstract: Research has shown that sleep is beneficial for the long-term retention of memories. According to theories of memory consolidation, memories are gradually reorganized, becoming supported by widespread, distributed cortical networks, particularly during postencoding periods of sleep. However, the effects of sleep on the organization of memories in the hippocampus itself remains less clear. In a 3-d study, participants encoded separate lists of word–image pairs differing in their opportunity for sleep-dependent consolidation. Pairs were initially studied either before or after an overnight sleep period, and were then restudied in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan session. We used multivariate pattern similarity analyses to examine fine-grained effects of consolidation on memory representations in the hippocampus. We provide evidence for a dissociation along the long axis of the hippocampus that emerges with consolidation, such that representational patterns for object–word memories initially formed prior to sleep become differentiated in anterior hippocampus and more similar, or overlapping, in posterior hippocampus. Differentiation in anterior hippocampal representations correlated with subsequent behavioral performance. Furthermore, representational overlap in posterior hippocampus correlated with the duration of intervening slow wave sleep. Together, these results demonstrate that sleep-dependent consolidation promotes the reorganization of memory traces along the long axis of the hippocampus.
Keywords: representations / hippocampus / memory / sleep / differentiated / posterior / anterior / overlap / functional / behavioral

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