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Making Room for New Memories

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Making Room for New Memories

Clearing neuronal networks from transient memory engrams during sleep consolidates memories.


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During sleep, memories move from the hippocampus, where they’re formed, into long-term storage.

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When you go to a new place, special neuronal cells in the hippocampus – aptly named place cells – are in charge of remembering it. Recent monitoring of neuronal activity suggests that sleep plays a major role in clearing older spatial memories out of the hippocampus to make room for new ones. During slow-wave sleep, these old memories get transferred to the neocortex by an, as yet, unclear mechanism. If you ever felt the need to justify why you’re going to bed early, getAbstract recommends this article for you.


Spatial memories are made in the hippocampus.

Special neurons in your hippocampus called place cells “fire” when you pass through a particular place in your environment relative to familiar external objects. Further exploring the place strengthens the spatial memory. Such memories are often replayed during sleep, meaning that the neurons exhibit the same activity during slow-wave sleep as when the memories were initially formed. Scientists have long known that memory stabilization happens during this deep, non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep state. Recent...

About the Author

Andreas Draguhn is at the Institute for Physiology and Pathophysiology at the University of Heidelberg.

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