Is there a link between sleep changes and memory in Alzheimer's disease?

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Aging and Alzheimer's disease (AD) are both characterized by memory impairments and sleep changes. We investigated the potential link between these disturbances, focusing on sleep spindles, involved in memory consolidation. Two episodic memory tasks were given to young and old healthy participants, as well as to AD patients. Postlearning sleep was recorded. Sleep spindles were globally reduced in aging and AD. AD patients also exhibited a further decrease in fast spindles. Besides, mean intensity of fast spindles was positively correlated, in AD patients, with immediate recall performance. Our results are the first report of a specific decrease in fast spindles in AD, associated with learning abilities. They also give further hints for a functional differentiation between slow and fast spindles.

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