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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1796715, 7 pages
Review Article

Sleep Spindles as Facilitators of Memory Formation and Learning

Department of Physiology and Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Received 4 January 2016; Accepted 13 March 2016

Academic Editor: Igor Timofeev

Copyright © 2016 Daniel Ulrich. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the past decades important progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms of sleep spindle generation. At the same time a physiological role of sleep spindles is starting to be revealed. Behavioural studies in humans and animals have found significant correlations between the recall performance in different learning tasks and the amount of sleep spindles in the intervening sleep. Concomitant neurophysiological experiments showed a close relationship between sleep spindles and other sleep related EEG rhythms as well as a relationship between sleep spindles and synaptic plasticity. Together, there is growing evidence from several disciplines in neuroscience for a participation of sleep spindles in memory formation and learning.