Background The importance of slow-wave sleep (SWS), hallmarked by the occurrence of sleep slow oscillations (SO), for the consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memories has been shown in numerous studies. Previously, the application of transcranial direct current stimulation, oscillating at the frequency of endogenous slow oscillations, during SWS enhanced memory consolidation for a hippocampus dependent task in humans suggesting a causal role of slowly oscillating electric fields for sleep dependent memory consolidation. Objective Here, we aimed to replicate and extend these findings to a rodent model. Methods Slow oscillatory direct transcranial current stimulation (SO-tDCS) was applied over the frontal cortex of rats during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and its effects on memory consolidation in the one-trial object-place recognition task were examined. A retention interval of 24 h was used to investigate the effects of SO-tDCS on long-term memory. Results Animals' preference for the displaced object was significantly greater than chance only when animals received SO-tDCS. EEG spectral power indicated a trend toward a transient enhancement of endogenous SO activity in the SO-tDCS condition. Conclusions These results support the hypothesis that slowly oscillating electric fields causal affect sleep dependent memory consolidation, and demonstrate that oscillatory tDCS can be a valuable tool to investigate the function of endogenous cortical network activity.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)