New directions in sleep and memory research: the role of autonomic activity

Lauren N. Whitehurst, Pin Chun Chen, Mohsen Naji, Sara C. Mednick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Over the last 100 years there has been a proliferation of research into the mechanisms of sleep that support cognition. Majority of these studies point to electroencephalographic features during sleep that are linked to plasticity and support valuable cognitive skills, like long-term memory. Importantly, sleep is both a central and an autonomic phenomenon with dynamic shifts occurring in both the brain and the body at sleep onset and throughout a sleep period. Prior work has demonstrated that autonomic inputs during wake modulate cognition. In this Review, we outline a new research direction that links brain-body interactions during sleep to cognitive ability and enhancement and posit that autonomic-central interactions are likely a distinct predictor of sleep-dependent plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
N.I.H.R01AG046646; Office of Naval Research, Young Investigator Award to Mednick.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'New directions in sleep and memory research: the role of autonomic activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this