Scientific article
Open access

Whole-Night Continuous Rocking Entrains Spontaneous Neural Oscillations with Benefits for Sleep and Memory

Published inCurrent Biology, vol. 29, no. 3, p. 402-411.e3
Publication date2019

Sensory processing continues during sleep and can influence brain oscillations. We previously showed that a gentle rocking stimulation (0.25 Hz), during an afternoon nap, facilitates wake-sleep transition and boosts endogenous brain oscillations (i.e., EEG spindles and slow oscillations [SOs]). Here, we tested the hypothesis that the rhythmic rocking stimulation synchronizes sleep oscillations, a neurophysiological mechanism referred to as "neural entrainment." We analyzed EEG brain responses related to the stimulation recorded from 18 participants while they had a full night of sleep on a rocking bed. Moreover, because sleep oscillations are considered of critical relevance for memory processes, we also investigated whether rocking influences overnight declarative memory consolidation. We first show that, compared to a stationary night, continuous rocking shortened the latency to non-REM (NREM) sleep and strengthened sleep maintenance, as indexed by increased NREM stage 3 (N3) duration and fewer arousals. These beneficial effects were paralleled by an increase in SOs and in slow and fast spindles during N3, without affecting the physiological SO-spindle phase coupling. We then confirm that, during the rocking night, overnight memory consolidation was enhanced and also correlated with the increase in fast spindles, whose co-occurrence with the SO up-state is considered to foster cortical synaptic plasticity. Finally, supporting the hypothesis that a rhythmic stimulation entrains sleep oscillations, we report a temporal clustering of spindles and SOs relative to the rocking cycle. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that a continuous rocking stimulation strengthens deep sleep via the neural entrainment of intrinsic sleep oscillations.

  • Entrainment
  • Memory
  • Phase-amplitude coupling
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Sleep
  • Slow oscillation
  • Spindles
  • Swiss National Science Foundation - CR3113_149731
Citation (ISO format)
PERRAULT, Aurore et al. Whole-Night Continuous Rocking Entrains Spontaneous Neural Oscillations with Benefits for Sleep and Memory. In: Current Biology, 2019, vol. 29, n° 3, p. 402–411.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.028
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0960-9822

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