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Antoine Adamantidis (University of Bern)

Causal Evidence for the Role of REM Sleep Theta Rhythm in Contextual Memory Consolidation

Rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMs) has been linked with spatial and emotional memory consolidation. However, establishing direct causality between neural activity during REMs and memory consolidation has proven difficult due to the transient nature of REMs and significant caveats associated with REMs deprivation techniques. In a recent study, we optogenetically silenced medial septum GABAergic (MSGABA) neurons allowing for temporally precise attenuation of the memory-associated theta rhythm during REMs without disturbing sleeping behavior. REMs-specific optogenetic silencing of MSGABA neurons selectively during a REMs critical window after learning erased subsequent novel object place recognition and impaired fear-conditioned contextual memory. Silencing MSGABA neurons for similar durations outside REMs episodes had no effect on memory. These results demonstrate that MSGABA neuronal activity, and their drive of theta oscillations, specifically during REMs is required for normal memory consolidation.