Reward biases spontaneous neural reactivation during sleep

Sleep favors the reactivation and consolidation of newly acquired memories. Yet, how our brain selects the noteworthy information to be reprocessed during sleep remains largely unknown. From an evolutionary perspective, individuals must retain information that promotes survival, such as avoiding dangers, finding food, or obtaining praise or money. Here, we test whether neural representations of rewarded (compared to non-rewarded) events have priority for reactivation during sleep. Using functional MRI and a brain decoding approach, we show that patterns of brain activity observed during waking behavior spontaneously reemerge during slow-wave sleep. Critically, we report a privileged reactivation of neural patterns previously associated with a rewarded task (i.e., winning at a complex game). Moreover, during sleep, activity in task-related brain regions correlates with better subsequent memory performance. Our study uncovers a neural mechanism whereby rewarded life experiences are preferentially replayed and consolidated while we sleep.

    Organizational unit
    Schwartz Lab
    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Publication date18/02/2021
Retention date16/02/2031
accessLevelPublicAccess levelPublic
duaNoneContract on the use of data
  • Sterpenich, Virginie
  • van Schie, Mojca
  • Catsiyannis, Maximillien
  • Ramyead, Avinash
  • Perrig, Stephen
  • Yang, Hee-Deok
  • Van De Ville, Dimitri orcid
  • Schwartz, Sophie
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