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Functional neuroimaging insights into how sleep and sleep deprivation affect memory and cognition

Chee, Michael WLa,b; Chuah, Lisa YMb

doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e3283052cf7
Neuroimaging: Edited by Louis Lemieux

Purpose of review The review summarizes current knowledge about what fMRI has revealed regarding the neurobehavioral correlates of sleep deprivation and sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

Recent findings Functional imaging studies of sleep deprivation have characterized its effects on a number of cognitive domains, the best studied of these being working memory. There is a growing appreciation that it is important to consider interindividual differences in vulnerability to sleep deprivation, task and task difficulty when interpreting imaging results. Our understanding of the role of sleep and the dynamic evolution of offline memory consolidation has benefited greatly from human imaging studies. Both hippocampal-dependent and hippocampal-independent memory systems have been studied.

Summary Functional imaging studies contrasting sleep-deprived and well-rested brains provide substantial evidence that sleep is highly important for optimal cognitive function and learning. The experimental paradigms developed to date merit evaluation in clinical settings to determine the impact of sleep disruption in sleep disorders.

aCognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore

bSingapore Health Services, Singapore

Correspondence to Michael W.L. Chee, Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, No. 7 Hospital Drive Blk B #01-11, Singapore 169611, Singapore Tel: +65 63266915; fax: +65 62246386; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.