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Elizabeth McDevitt, Maryam Ahmadi, Michael Silver, Sara Mednick; Modulating acetylcholine during consolidation of sleep-dependent perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):550. doi: 10.1167/16.12.550.
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Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep plays a critical role in consolidation of perceptual learning (PL), and high levels of acetylcholine (ACh) during REM are hypothesized to set the appropriate neural dynamics for this process (Mednick et al., 2003). Prior work has demonstrated that cholinergic enhancement increases the magnitude and specificity of PL (Rokem & Silver 2010, Beer et al., 2013), however these studies either were unable to dissociate ACh enhancement effects on training versus consolidation or did not measure sleep. Using a between-subjects design, we compared the cholinesterase inhibitor rivastigmine (n=6), which increases synaptic levels of ACh, to placebo (n=7) during the first of two nights of sleep following training on a texture discrimination task. Preliminary results show no difference in initial encoding thresholds between drug groups (p=.55). Difference scores between encoding and retrieval reveal significant learning in the rivastigmine condition (p=.012), but no learning in the placebo condition (p=.27). Currently, there is no significant difference in magnitude of learning between drug groups (p=.14), however, more data need to be collected. In summary, this study uses an innovative approach to examine neural mechanisms of sleep-dependent memory consolidation with pharmacology in humans. Our early results show a possible role for acetylcholine in the enhancement of perceptual memories.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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