Neuroscience News

Summary: A rapid memory system transition from the hippocampus to the posterior parietal cortex is stabilized as we sleep. Sleep and repeated rehearsal of memory jointly contribute to long-term memory consolidation.

Source: University of Tübingen

Two regions of our brain are used to store memory contents: the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. While the former is required, especially at short notice, to absorb new information, the latter can store large amounts of information for a long time. Lea Himmer, dr. Monika Schönauer and Professor Steffen Gais from the Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen and their team have investigated how the brain areas share the tasks of consolidating newly learned things and what role sleep plays in this.

Using imaging, the research team demonstrated that repetitive training allows new memory trails to be established in the cerebral cortex within a short time frame. However, these are only sufficient on their own if the learning follows a sleep phase – otherwise the brain has to resort additionally to the hippocampus for the permanent storage of new memory contents.

The study of the Tübingen neuroscientists appears in the journal Science Advances.

In the new study, the scientists gave their subjects a learning task in which they should memorize a word list in seven repetitions. While performing this task, their brain activity was recorded in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. Twelve hours later, the subjects repeated the same task with the already learned and a new word list. Half of the people had slept during this time, the other half had stayed awake. The repeated practice led within an hour to retrieve what was learned using the posterior parietal lobe, a region of the cerebral cortex. Accordingly, the involvement of the hippocampus decreased…Read More at

Neuroscience News