Individual differences in information processing predict sleep-based memory consolidation of complex rules

Madison Richter, Zachariah R. Cross, Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Memory is critical for many cognitive functions, from remembering facts, to learning complex environmental rules. While memory encoding occurs during wake, memory consolidation is associated with sleep-related neural activity. Further, research suggests that individual differences in the alpha frequency band (∼ 7 – 13 Hz) modulate memory processes, with higher individual alpha frequency (IAF) associated with greater memory performance. However, the relationship between wake-related EEG individual differences, such as IAF, and sleep-related neural correlates of memory consolidation has been largely unexplored, particularly in a complex rule-based memory context. Here, we aimed to investigate whether IAF and sleep neurophysiology interact to influence rule learning in a sample of 36 healthy adults (16 male; mean age = 25.4, range: 18 – 40). Participants learned rules of a modified miniature language prior to either 8hrs of sleep or wake, after which they were tested on their knowledge of the rules in a grammaticality judgement task. Results indicated that sleep and IAF modulate memory for complex linguistic rules. Phase-amplitude coupling between slow oscillations and spindles during non-rapid eye-movement (NREM) sleep also promoted memory for rules that were analogous to the canonical English word order. As an exploratory analysis, we found that theta activity during rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep predicted rule learning. Taken together, the current study provides behavioural and electrophysiological evidence for a complex role of NREM and REM sleep neurophysiology and IAF in the consolidation of rule-based information.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherbioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Number of pages52
Publication statusSubmitted - 24 Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • memory
  • rule extraction
  • sleep
  • individual alpha frequency
  • phase-amplitude coupling


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