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Sleep and episodic memory consolidation: ‘No-report’ paradigms, brain mechanisms, and dementia

Project description

Explaining consolidation of episodic memory

Episodic memory represents our memory of experiences and specific events in time in a serial form. One question that scientists are trying to answer is how episodic memory consolidates into long-term memory. It has been observed in neurophysiological and behavioural studies that long-term memory consolidation is a major function of sleep. The EU-funded SleepEpisMemory project supports a novel approach in the research of the role of hippocampal-cortical dialogue (HCD) during sleep for memory consolidation. It will apply pioneering 'no-report' paradigms to record and stimulate the activity of the brain during sleep to effectively study episodic memory consolidation, the role of HCD and its processes in dementia and ageing as well as non-invasive methods to improve memory.


Episodic memory is a core element of the human mind, but how experiencing an episode consolidates into long-term memory remains a central unsolved question in cognitive science. We will test the hypothesis that hippocampal-cortical dialogue (HCD) during sleep promotes memory consolidation, a hypothesis that has been largely beyond direct testing in humans to date. Moreover, transcending report is essential, since it remains unclear if sleep improves memory per-se, or the ability to access and report memories. Conventional paradigms do not facilitate sleep and memory research in dementia, where it is vital. Based on my expertise, ongoing studies, and preliminary results, I propose a unique approach to address these gaps by combining novel approaches to recording and stimulating brain activity in human sleep with novel ‘no-report’ memory paradigms. We will go beyond the state-of-the-art in three synergistic domains: (1) Develop an ecological ‘no-report’ paradigm to study episodic memory, and its consolidation during sleep. (2) Test the role of sleep HCD in mediating human memory consolidation. (3) In dementia and aging, we will investigate to what extent disrupted HCD during sleep impairs memory consolidation, and whether noninvasive neuromodulation can improve memory in dementia. The proposed research has the potential to elucidate fundamental principles and transform conceptual insights of how sleep promotes episodic memory consolidation.


Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 566 250,00
Total cost
€ 2 566 250,00

Beneficiaries (2)