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This chapter looks at how different memory systems are influenced by sleep. It describes the currently most-widely accepted model of consolidation of hippocampus-dependent memory. The chapter also looks at human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies which provide evidence that, in fact, memories are re-activated, re-organized, and re-processed during sleep. Reactivation occurs during post-learning sleep, and it seems to be an important component of memory consolidation. In general, it has been found that it occurs in those brain regions most strongly related to the specific learning task. Re-activation could therefore support synaptic consolidation of memory traces. However, recent studies also provide more and more evidence for systems memory consolidation. Looking for signs of re-processing during sleep is the most difficult to do, because based on imaging data alone it is hard to distinguish from re-organization, and there are only few behavioral tasks that are designed to examine such changes.
This chapter summarizes functional neuroimaging findings from a variety of autonomic and respiratory challenges the author's group has performed in people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A cold pressor challenge involves exposing a body region to a cold stimulus, which elicits a sympathetic activation that leads to a vasoconstriction and a blood pressure increase. The Valsalva maneuver is an autonomic challenge involving straining by forceful expiration against a closed glottis, and the tasks elicit a sequence of blood pressure and heart rate responses mediated through a coordination of autonomic regulatory activity. The inspiratory and expiratory loading tasks led to a degree of dyspnea in most subjects, as did the Valsalva maneuver to a lesser extent. An abnormal pattern in OSA is altered insular functional neuroanatomy in response to autonomic stimuli, as seen with higher-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in response to the Valsalva maneuver.
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