The effect of sleep deprivation on emotional memory consolidation in participants reporting depressive symptoms


Sleep has been shown to play a crucial role in the consolidation of emotionally salient memories. However, the influence of sleep, and Sleep Deprivation (SD), on emotional memory consolidation in depressive individuals remains elusive. For this experiment we recruited two groups of healthy students, one reporting mild-to-severe depressive symptoms, and another reporting minimal/no depressive symptoms (assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory; BDI-II). We measured recognition performance for positive, neutral and negative images before and after a 12 h overnight retention interval, during which participants either remained awake in the laboratory or returned home to sleep normally. We found a significant depressive symptomatology group × sleep condition × image valence interaction on memory consolidation across the 12 h retention interval[F(2, 98) = 3.12,p= .049,ηp2= 0.060]. We also found that depressive participants who slept normally con-solidated significantly more negative and neutral images across the 12 h retention interval than depressive participants who were sleep deprived [t(24) = 2.35,p= .028,t(24) = 2.79,p= .010, respectively]. Our pre-liminary results indicate that SD may impair the consolidation of negative and neutral memories in depressive participants, but not in participants reporting minimal/no depressive symptoms.