Does sleep protect memories against interference? A failure to replicate.

07:00 EST 13th February 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Does sleep protect memories against interference? A failure to replicate."

Across a broad spectrum of memory tasks, retention is superior following a night of sleep compared to a day of wake. However, this result alone does not clarify whether sleep merely slows the forgetting that would otherwise occur as a result of information processing during wakefulness, or whether sleep actually consolidates memories, protecting them from subsequent retroactive interference. Two influential studies suggested that sleep protects memories against the subsequent retroactive interference that occurs when participants learn new yet overlapping information (interference learning). In these studies, interference learning was much less detrimental to memory following a night of sleep compared to a day of wakefulness, an indication that sleep supports this important aspect of memory consolidation. In the current replication study, we repeated the protocol of and, additionally, we examined the impact of intrinsic motivation on performance in sleep and wake participants. We were unable to replicate the finding that sleep protects memories against retroactive interference, with the detrimental effects of interference learning being essentially the same in wake and sleep participants. We also found that while intrinsic motivation benefitted task acquisition it was not a modulator of sleep-wake differences in memory processing. Although we cannot accept the null hypothesis that sleep has no role to play in reducing the negative impact of interference, the findings draw into question prior evidence for sleep's role in protecting memories against interference. Moreover, the current study highlights the importance of replicating key findings in the study of sleep's impact on memory processing before drawing strong conclusions that set the direction of future research.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: PloS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e0220419


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