Sleep-learning Impairs Subsequent Wake-learning

Ruch, Simon; Züst, Marc Alain; Henke, Katharina (2020). Sleep-learning Impairs Subsequent Wake-learning (bioRxiv). Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 10.1101/2020.07.16.206482

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Humans can unconsciously acquire new information during deep sleep. Although sleep-played information can guide behavior during subsequent wakefulness, sleep-formed memories cannot be remembered consciously after awakening. We explored whether sleep-learning might expedite conscious learning during subsequent wakefulness by providing a first bout of carving a new memory trace, which ensuing wake-learning can build on. We analyzed previously unreported data acquired in a recent study on vocabulary learning during slow-wave sleep (Züst et al., 2019, Curr Biol). Sleep-played vocabulary was successfully retrieved in an implicit memory test administered following awakening. However, sleep-learning diminished instead of increased wake relearning of the same vocabulary. We speculate that vocabulary learning during sleep may have interfered with the synaptic down-scaling of hippocampal and neocortical language-related neurons, which were then too saturated for further potentiation required for the wake-relearning of the same vocabulary.

Item Type:

Working Paper


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Weitere Forschungsgruppen
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Ruch, Simon, Züst, Marc, Henke, Katharina


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


[UNSPECIFIED] Interfaculty Research Cooperation grant “Decoding Sleep: From Neurons to Health and Mind” ; [4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Simon Ruch

Date Deposited:

31 Jul 2020 16:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:39

Publisher DOI:



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