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Boosting motor learning through sleep and targeted memory reactivation in ageing and Parkinson’s disease


Rehabilitation is an important therapeutic strategy for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), whereby motor adaptations are learned to maintain daily functioning. However, patients often present difficulty consolidating newly learned skills into long-term memory, which reduces the benefits of training. Interventions that enhance consolidation are therefore projected to diminish the impact of PD. Sleep facilitates motor memory consolidation in healthy adults, especially in combination with targeted memory reactivation (TMR). TMR works by adding associated auditory stimuli during learning, which are replayed during sleep and thus reinforce the recently formed neural connections. Importantly, recent work has suggested that consolidation during sleep may be preserved in PD, but robust findings are lacking and have not involved TMR. This knowledge gap is astonishing given the potential benefits that can be gained by integrating sleep interventions into rehabilitation. My objective is to address this imperative by investigating the effect of sleep on motor memory consolidation by experimentally manipulating exposure to sleep and TMR for the first time. Concretely, I will compare the effect of a 2-hour daytime nap with or without TMR to that of a wake control period in PD and age-matched controls. I will use a validated motor sequence task to test for behavioral markers of motor learning and apply state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques to study the imprint of neural network changes underlying consolidation. My training objectives include teaching and supervising students in rehabilitation–related neuroscientific topics and research leadership development. I will also implement a rigorous dissemination and communication plan to achieve optimal societal impact of my research findings. I anticipate my MSCA to spark new sleep interventions that boost the effectiveness of rehabilitation and improve the wellbeing of our ageing population, in particular those affected by PD.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-RI - RI – Reintegration panel


Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 166 320