Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type





Sleep, Memory, Emotion


"The current study examined whether sleep enhances the retention of emotionally arousing memories, and whether an emotional memory can be blocked with a single night of sleep deprivation. Using a modified version of a slide show varying in emotionality with respect to the narrative (participants' acting as either a mother or father experiencing the tragic death of their imagined child), 100 (healthy young adult student volunteer) subjects following the experience were randomly assigned to either a normal night of sleep or were variously sleep deprived (in laboratory). After having experienced the emotional event followed immediately by a night of sleep deprivation, and a subsequent full recovery night of sleep, we found that sleep deprivation blocked the augmented retention of the emotional memory (p = 0.01) seen in a group having had a normal night of sleep. Further, we found that the late half-night sleep deprivation blocked the retention of the augmented memory, to an even greater extent (p < .005). The results indicate a central role for late-night Stage 2 and REM sleep in the consolidation of emotional memories. The results further indicate that in the immediate aftermath of an emotionally arousing event, sleep deprivation may serve as a prophylactic intervention preventing long-term consolidation of an emotional (i.e., traumatic) memory."



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