Short-Term Total Sleep Deprivation Alters Delay-Conditioned Memory in the Rat

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Short-term sleep deprivation soon after training may impair memory consolidation. Also, a particular sleep stage or its components increase after learning some tasks, such as negative and positive reinforcement tasks, avoidance tasks, and spatial learning tasks, and so forth. It suggests that discrete memory types may require specific sleep stage or its components for their optimal processing. The classical conditioning paradigms are widely used to study learning and memory but the role of sleep in a complex conditioned learning is unclear. Here, we have investigated the effects of short-term sleep deprivation on the consolidation of delay-conditioned memory and the changes in sleep architecture after conditioning. Rats were trained for the delay-conditioned task (for conditioning, house-light [conditioned stimulus] was paired with fruit juice [unconditioned stimulus]). Animals were divided into 3 groups: (a) sleep deprived (SD); (b) nonsleep deprived (NSD); and (c) stress control (SC) groups. Two-way ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between groups and days (training and testing) during the conditioned stimulus–unconditioned stimulus presentation. Further, Tukey post hoc comparison revealed that the NSD and SC animals exhibited significant increase in performances during testing. The SD animals, however, performed significantly less during testing. Further, we observed that wakefulness and NREM sleep did not change after training and testing. Interestingly, REM sleep increased significantly on both days compared to baseline more specifically during the initial 4-hr time window after conditioning. Our results suggest that the consolidation of delay-conditioned memory is sleep-dependent and requires augmented REM sleep during an explicit time window soon after training.

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