New directions in sleep and memory research: the role of autonomic activity
Whitehurst LN., Chen P-C., Naji M., Mednick SC.
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.