Sleep strengthens resting-state functional communication between brain areas involved in the consolidation of problem-solving skills

Sleep consolidates procedural memory for motor skills, and this process is associated with strengthened functional connectivity in hippocampal–striatal–cortical areas. It is unknown whether similar processes occur for procedural memory that requires cognitive strategies needed for problem-solving. It is also unclear whether a full night of sleep is indeed necessary for consolidation to occur, compared with a daytime nap. We examined how resting-state functional connectivity within the hippocampal–striatal–cortical network differs after offline consolidation intervals of sleep, nap, or wake. Resting-state fMRI data were acquired immediately before and after training on a procedural problem-solving task that requires the acquisition of a novel cognitive strategy and immediately prior to the retest period (i.e., following the consolidation interval). ROI to ROI and seed to whole-brain functional connectivity analyses both specifically and consistently demonstrated strengthened hippocampal–prefrontal functional connectivity following a period of sleep versus wake. These results were associated with task-related gains in behavioral performance. Changes in functional communication were also observed between groups using the striatum as a seed. Here, we demonstrate that at the behavioral level, procedural strategies benefit from both a nap and a night of sleep. However, a full night of sleep is associated with enhanced functional communication between regions that support problem-solving skills.
Funding Information
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
  • Discovery Grant (RGPIN/2017-04328)
  • Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award (ER17-13-023)
  • NSERC Discovery (RGPIN/2017-04328)
  • Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award (ER17-13-023)

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