sleeping beauty
Representative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

Washington: A new study conducted by Neuroscientists has identified a mechanism that may help build memories during deep sleep.

This study centred on the role of the nucleus reuniens, an area that connects two other brain structures involved in creating memories - the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus - and may coordinate their activity during slow-wave sleep.

"Slow-waves during sleep benefit our memories for personal experiences, likely due to coordinated activity in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus," explained Brandon Hauer, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Science and lead author on the study.

"We found that the nucleus reuniens is responsible for coordinating synchronous, slow-waves between these two structures. This means that the reuniens may play an essential role in sleep-dependent memory consolidation of events."

Slow-wave sleep is the deepest stage of sleep, during which the brain oscillates at a very slow, once-per-second rhythm. It is crucial for muscle and brain recovery and has been shown to play a role in memory consolidation.

"Before this study, we did not know what was responsible for connecting the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus," added Hauer, who researched under the supervision of Clay Dickson, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Silvia Pagliardini, associate professor in the Department of Physiology.

This under-studied and relatively unknown brain area likely have a substantial role in forming long-term memories while you sleep. So if you studied hard for a test and then slept on it, you may have to thank your nucleus reuniens for turning that knowledge into more permanent memory."