Monday, December 05, 2016

Sleep helps memory consolidation in children with autism AND neuro-typical controls.

Go to sleep right after reading this. You will remember it better.  - JR
"Sleep Helps Improve Memory Processing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

Sleep stabilizes the ability to consolidate memory in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as it does with children with typical development, according to a new study presented at the Child Neurology Society annual meeting in National Harbor, MD.

However, when similar information is learned right before bedtime, children show more stable memory processing after a night of sleep. These findings highlight the importance of sleep for cognitive functioning, study author Kiran Maski, MD, a sleep specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told the Neurology Today Conference Reporter.

Children with autism forgot about 30 percent of what they had learned across the wake period but forgot only half as much across the sleep period. In contrast, children with typical development forgot 12 percent of what they had learned while awake. Remarkably, these controls improved their memory performance by 5 percent after a night of sleep, suggesting sleep can enhance memory consolidation.

The finding that sleep benefited both groups is surprising, given that children with autism had poorer sleep efficiency than controls (p<0 .001="" font="">

Interestingly, the ability to consolidate memories during sleep was associated with different sleep measures for the controls compared to those with autism. “In the controls, the amount of sleep was positively correlated with memory consolidation,” said Dr. Maski. However, a measure of deeper sleep (slow oscillation power in NREM sleep) was correlated with memory consolidation in the children with autism. “This suggests that sleep duration is more important for memory consolidation in those with typical development, but the quality of sleep may be more important for the children with autism,” she explained.

“The findings suggest a direct relationship between sleep and memory processing in children,” she added. “Our results suggest that improving sleep quality in children with autism could have direct benefits in improving their overall cognitive functioning.”

“We have lots of data telling us that loss of sleep makes people more irritable and less attentive. Brain activity and performance suffer when sleep is not good,” he added. “It is good that clinicians have studied this so people recognize the importance of a good night’s sleep for children, autistic or otherwise.”

  • Maski K, et al. Sleep dependent memory consolidation in children with autism spectrum disorder. Sleep 2015; Epub 2015 Jul 13:

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