Reactivation during sleep with incomplete reminder cues rather than complete ones stabilizes long-term memory in humans

Forcato, Cecilia
Klinzing, Jens G.
Carbone, Julia
Radloff, Michael
Weber, Frederik D.
Born, Jan
Diekelmann, Susanne
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"Reactivation by reminder cues labilizes memories during wakefulness, requiring reconsolidation to persist. In contrast, during sleep, cued reactivation seems to directly stabilize memories. In reconsolidation, incomplete reminders are more effective in reactivating memories than complete reminders by inducing a mismatch, i.e. a discrepancy between expected and actual events. Whether mismatch is likewise detected during sleep is unclear. Here we test whether cued reactivation during sleep is more effective for mismatch-inducing incomplete than complete reminders. We first establish that only incomplete but not complete reminders labilize memories during wakefulness. When complete or incomplete reminders are presented during 40-min sleep, both reminders are equally effective in stabilizing memories. However, when extending the retention interval for another 7 hours (following 40-min sleep), only incomplete but not complete reminders stabilize memories, regardless of the extension containing wakefulness or sleep. We propose that, during sleep, only incomplete reminders initiate long-term memory stabilization via mismatch detection."