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REM sleep is important for the processing of emotional memories, including fear memories. Rhythmic interactions, especially in the theta band, between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and limbic structures are thought to play an important role, but the ways in which memory processing occurs at a mechanistic and circuits level are largely unknown. To investigate how rhythmic interactions lead to fear extinction during REM sleep, we used a biophysically based model that included the infralimbic cortex (IL), a part of the mPFC with a critical role in suppressing fear memories. Theta frequency (4–12 Hz) inputs to a given cell assembly in IL, representing an emotional memory, resulted in the strengthening of connections from the IL to the amygdala and the weakening of connections from the amygdala to the IL, resulting in the suppression of the activity of fear expression cells for the associated memory. Lower frequency (4 Hz) theta inputs effected these changes over a wider range of input strengths. In contrast, inputs at other frequencies were ineffective at causing these synaptic changes and did not suppress fear memories. Under post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) REM sleep conditions, rhythmic activity dissipated, and 4 Hz theta inputs to IL were ineffective, but higher-frequency (10 Hz) theta inputs to IL induced changes similar to those seen with 4 Hz inputs under normal REM sleep conditions, resulting in the suppression of fear expression cells. These results suggest why PTSD patients may repeatedly experience the same emotionally charged dreams and suggest potential neuromodulatory therapies for the amelioration of PTSD symptoms. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Rhythmic interactions in the theta band between the mPFC and limbic structures are thought to play an important role in processing emotional memories, including fear memories, during REM sleep. The infralimbic cortex (IL) in the mPFC is thought to play a critical role in suppressing fear memories. We show that theta inputs to the IL, unlike other frequency inputs, are effective in producing synaptic changes that suppress the activity of fear expression cells associated with a given memory. Under PTSD REM sleep conditions, lower-frequency (4 Hz) theta inputs to the IL do not suppress the activity of fear expression cells associated with the given memory but, surprisingly, 10 Hz inputs do. These results suggest potential neuromodulatory therapies for PTSD.more » « less
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Abstract Background and Objectives
Sleep disorders often predict or co-occur with cognitive decline. Yet, little is known about how the relationship unfolds among older adults at risk for cognitive decline. To examine the associations of sleep disorders with cognitive decline in older adults with unimpaired cognition or impaired cognition (mild cognitive impairment and dementia).
Research Design and Methods
A total of 5,822 participants (Mage = 70) of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database with unimpaired or impaired cognition were followed for 3 subsequent waves. Four types of clinician-diagnosed sleep disorders were reported: sleep apnea, hyposomnia/insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, or “other.” Cognition over time was measured by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) or an estimate of general cognitive ability (GCA) derived from scores based on 12 neuropsychological tests. Growth curve models were estimated adjusting for covariates.
In participants with impaired cognition, baseline sleep apnea was related to better baseline MoCA performance (b = 0.65, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = [0.07, 1.23]) and less decline in GCA over time (b = 0.06, 95% CI = [0.001, 0.12]). Baseline insomnia was related to better baseline MoCA (b = 1.54, 95% CI = [0.88, 2.21]) and less decline in MoCA over time (b = 0.56, 95% CI = [0.20, 0.92]). Furthermore, having more sleep disorders (across the 4 types) at baseline predicted better baseline MoCA and GCA, and less decline in MoCA and GCA over time. These results were only found in those with impaired cognition and generally consistent when using self-reported symptoms of sleep apnea or insomnia.
Discussion and Implications
Participants with sleep disorder diagnoses may have better access to healthcare, which may help maintain cognition through improved sleep.