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Impact of nocturnal sleep deprivation on declarative memory retrieval in students at an orphanage: a psychoneuroradiological study

Authors Tantawy AO, El Tellawy HN, Farghaly HRS, Farghaly WM, Hussein AS, Saleh A

Received 7 October 2012

Accepted for publication 23 January 2013

Published 27 March 2013 Volume 2013:9 Pages 403—408


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Ahmed O Tantawy,1 Hamdy N El Tallawy,2 Hussein RS Farghaly,3 Wafaa M Farghaly,3 Amr S Hussein1

1Educational Psychology Department, Faculty of Education, 2Neurology and Psychiatry Department, 3Nuclear Medicine Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Assiut, Arab Republic of Egypt

Background and methods: This study investigated the effects of sleep deprivation on total and partial (early and late) declarative memory and activation in the areas of the brain involved in these activities. The study included two experiments. Experiment 1 included 40 male residents of an orphanage aged 16–19 years, who were divided into four groups (n = 10 each) and subjected to total sleep deprivation, normal sleep, early-night sleep deprivation, or late-night sleep deprivation. Experiment 2 included eight students from the same institution who were divided into the same four groups (n = 2) as in experiment 1. Declarative memory was tested using lists of associated word pairs in both experiments, and activation of the relevant brain regions was measured before and after retrieval by single-photon emission computed tomography for subjects in experiment 2 only.
Results: Students subjected to normal sleep had significantly higher scores for declarative memory retrieval than those subjected to total sleep deprivation (P = 0.002), early-night sleep deprivation (P = 0.005), or late-night sleep deprivation (P = 0.02). The left temporal lobe showed the highest rate of activity during memory retrieval after normal sleep, whereas the frontal, parietal, and right temporal lobes were more active after sleep deprivation.
Conclusion: Both slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep play an active role in consolidation of declarative memory, which in turn allows memory traces to be actively reprocessed and strengthened during sleep, leading to improved performance in memory recall.

Keywords: late-night sleep deprivation, early-night sleep deprivation, total sleep deprivation, declarative memory

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