Sleep has been implicated as playing a critical role in memory consolidation. Emerging evidence suggests that reactivation of memories during sleep may facilitate the transfer of declarative memories from the hippocampus to the neocortex. Previous rodent studies have utilized sleep-deprivation to examine the role of sleep in memory consolidation. The present study uses a novel, naturalistic paradigm to study the effect of a sleep phase on rodent Pavlovian fear conditioning, a task with both hippocampus-dependent and -independent components (contextual vs. cued memories). Mice were trained 1 hour before their sleep/rest phase or awake/active phase and then tested for contextual and cued fear 12 or 24 hr later. The authors found that hippocampus-dependent contextual memory was enhanced if tested after a sleep phase within 24 hr of training. This enhancement was specific to context, not cued, memory. These findings provide direct evidence of a role for sleep in enhancing hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation in rodents and detail a novel paradigm for examining sleep-induced memory effects.
- fear conditioning
- medial temporal lobe