Sleep preserves physiological arousal in emotional memory

Ashton, Jennifer E., Harrington, Marcus O. ORCID:, Váli Guttesen, Anna Á., Smith, Anika K. and Cairney, Scott A. (2019) Sleep preserves physiological arousal in emotional memory. Scientific Reports, 9. ISSN 2045-2322

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Traumatic experiences are associated with increased emotional arousal. Overnight consolidation strengthens the episodic content of emotional memories, but it is still unclear how sleep influences the associated arousal response. To investigate this question, we compared the effects of sleep and wake on psychophysiological and subjective reactivity during emotional memory retrieval. Participants provided affective ratings for negative and neutral images while heart rate deceleration (HRD) and skin conductance responses (SCRs) were monitored. Following a 12-hour delay of sleep or wakefulness, participants completed an image recognition task where HRD, SCRs and affective ratings were recorded again. HRD responses to previously-encoded (“old”) negative images were preserved after sleep but diminished after wakefulness. No between-group difference in HRD was observed for novel negative images at recognition, indicating that the effects of sleep for old images were not driven by a generalised overnight increase in visceral activity, or circadian factors. No significant effects of sleep were observed for SCRs or subjective ratings. Our data suggest that cardiac arousal experienced at the time of encoding is sensitive to plasticity-promoting processes during sleep in a similar manner to episodic aspects of emotional memory.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work was supported by Medical Research Council (MRC) Career Development Award (MR/P020208/1) to S.A.C. We are grateful to Sam Berens and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this manuscript. Publisher Copyright: © 2019, The Author(s).
Uncontrolled Keywords: general ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1000
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2023 14:30
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2023 10:31
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42478-2

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