Sleep Mechanism Identified That Plays Role in Emotional Memory

June 12, 2013
Science Daily/University of California, Riverside
http://images.sciencedaily.com/2013/06/130612224140-large.jpg
Sleep researchers from University of California campuses in Riverside and San Diego have identified the sleep mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate emotional memory and found that a popular prescription sleep aid heightens the recollection of and response to negative memories.

Their findings have implications for individuals suffering from insomnia related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders who are prescribed zolpidem (Ambien) to help them sleep.

Mednick and UC San Diego psychologists Erik J. Kaestner and John T. Wixted determined that a sleep feature known as sleep spindles -- bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep -- are important for emotional memory.

"I was surprised by the specificity of the results, that the emotional memory improvement was specifically for the negative and high-arousal memories, and the ramifications of these results for people with anxiety disorders and PTSD," Mednick said. "These are people who already have heightened memory for negative and high-arousal memories. Sleep drugs might be improving their memories for things they don't want to remember."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612224140.htm

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