Item-specific neural representations during human sleep support long-term memory

Jing Liu, Tao Xia, Danni Chen, Ziqing Yao, Minrui Zhu, James W. Antony, Tatia M.C. Lee, Xiaoqing Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


AU Understanding: Pleaseconfirmthatallheadinglevelsarerepresentedcorrectly how individual memories are reactivated during : sleep is essential in theorizing memory consolidation. Here, we employed the targeted memory reactivation (TMR) paradigm to unobtrusively replaying auditory memory cues during human participants’ slow-wave sleep (SWS). Using representational similarity analysis (RSA) on cue-elicited electroencephalogram (EEG), we found temporally segregated and functionally distinct item-specific neural representations: the early post-cue EEG activity (within 0 to 2,000 ms) contained comparable item-specific representations for memory cues and control cues, signifying effective processing of auditory cues. Critically, the later EEG activity (2,500 to 2,960 ms) showed greater item-specific representations for post-sleep remembered items than for forgotten and control cues, indicating memory reprocessing. Moreover, these later item-specific neural representations were supported by concurrently increased spindles, particularly for items that had not been tested prior to sleep. These findings elucidated how external memory cues triggered item-specific neural representations during SWS and how such representations were linked to successful long-term memory. These results will benefit future research aiming to perturb specific memory episodes during sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3002399
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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