Learning, memory, and sleep

Chair(s): Marit Petzka (Birmingham, UK), Sven Paẞmann (Fribourg, Switzerland)

Presenter(s): Monika Schönauer (Freiburg), Anna Karlsson (Berlin), Sandrine Baselgia (Fribourg, Switzerland), Sven Paẞmann (Fribourg, Switzerland), Marit Petzka (Birmingham, UK)

Brain oscillations are a necessity to form new memories. They are fundamentally involved in all phases supporting successful memory formation, i.e. maintenance, encoding, transfer and consolidation. To gain a better understanding of successful memory formation, examining the functional role of different frequency bands in all phases of memory formation and across different age groups is essential, as their contribution can differ. For example, theta and gamma band activity are known for their involvement in information transfer, while spindles and delta band activity play important roles in consolidation. The same oscillatory patterns may also serve distinct functions in different phases of memory formation.

We aim to give a coherent picture about the involvement of brain oscillations across phases of successful memory formation by focusing on two experimental approaches: First, examining endogenous brain oscillations and second, manipulating brain oscillations using e.g., transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) in which a sinusoidal current oscillating at a specific frequency is applied.

In our symposium, Monika Schönauer will present new findings about oscillatory mechanisms underlying working memory maintenance. Anna Karlsson found that modulations in theta and alpha activity lead to different outcomes in memory formation in older compared with younger adults. Sandrine Baselgia will present a tACS-based study showing a functional role of theta in the encoding of acoustically presented word pairs, and Sven Paẞmann will present preliminary results of the same approach during sleep-dependent consolidation. Marit Petzka will present how sleep spindles track encoding patterns in favour of memory consolidation.