Slow oscillation-spindle coupling predicts enhanced memory formation from childhood to adolescence


Precise temporal coordination of slow oscillations (SO) and sleep spindles is a fundamental mechanism of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. SO and spindle morphology changes considerably throughout development. Critically, it remains unknown how the precise temporal coordination of these two sleep oscillations develops during brain maturation and whether their synchronization indexes the development of memory networks. Here, we use a longitudinal study design spanning from childhood to adolescence, where participants underwent polysomnography and performed a declarative word-pair learning task. Performance on the memory task was better during adolescence. After disentangling oscillatory components from 1/f activity, we found frequency shifts within SO and spindle frequency bands. Consequently, we devised an individualized cross-frequency coupling approach, which demonstrates that SO-spindle coupling strength increases during maturation. Critically, this increase indicated enhanced memory formation from childhood to adolescence. Our results provide evidence that improved coordination between SOs and spindles indexes the development of sleep-dependent memory networks.

Randolph Helfrich
Randolph Helfrich
Principial Investigator