Links between the brain and body during sleep: implications for memory processing

Lauren N. Whitehurst, Anjana Subramoniam, Andrew Krystal, Aric A. Prather

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Sleep is intimately related to memory processes. The established view is that the transformation of experiences into long-term memories is linked to sleep-related CNS function. However, there is increasing evidence that the autonomic nervous system (ANS), long recognized to modulate cognition during waking, can impact memory processing during sleep. Here, we review human research that examines the role of autonomic activity and sleep in memory formation. We argue that autonomic activity during sleep may set the stage for the CNS dynamics associated with sleep and memory stability and integration. Further, we consider how the link between ANS activity and polysomnographic markers of sleep may help elucidate both healthy and pathological cognitive aging in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • aging
  • autonomic nervous system
  • cognition
  • memory consolidation
  • parasympathetic
  • sympathetic
  • vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Links between the brain and body during sleep: implications for memory processing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this