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Dr. Payne presents and discusses the various applications of her research.

"The Science of Stress & Sleep" - Professor Jessica Payne
Sleep Brain: Why do we need Sleep? - Jessica Payne, University of Notre Dame
Kavli Frontiers of Science

Sleep Brain: Why do we need Sleep? - Jessica Payne, University of Notre Dame

Sleep, Memory, and the Brain: How Sleep and Stress Interact to Facilitate Emotional Memory Formation Jessica Payne, Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame Why do we sleep? It is remarkable that although it is 2017, we scientists still have not answered this question. Although we may not know sleep’s function, it is clear that sleep is essential for brain health and for the various cognitive functions the brain supports. Of these functions, memory consolidation – the ability to retain newly learned information – has received the most empirical support. My laboratory and others have demonstrated that sleep is not only essential for simple memory storage, but also for various forms of memory restructuring and transformation that allow us to use our knowledge and experiences in flexible and adaptive ways. Sleep benefits the consolidation of emotional memories in particular, often at the expense of more neutral memories. Interestingly, separate, indeed largely isolated, fields of research demonstrate that both sleep and stress hormones like cortisol can selectively benefit the consolidation of emotional aspects of our experiences. However, the interaction of sleep and stress in memory-relevant regions of the brain may be necessary for the consolidation of robust emotional memories. The first part of my talk will examine the distinct roles that sleep and stress play in the formation of emotional memories. In the second part, I will discuss new evidence, from behavioral, psychophysiological, and brain imaging studies, suggesting that stress and arousal interact with sleep to benefit memory consolidation, particularly for negative emotional information. Although preserving memories for negative emotional events is typically adaptive, excessive memory for such events can contribute to mental health disorders such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the final part of my talk, I will present a new model that argues that stress-related neurochemicals may help ‘tag’ attended information as important to remember at the time of new learning, thus enabling subsequent, sleep-based neural processes to optimally consolidate emotional information in a selective manner. A schematic of the model is presented below. Abbreviations: NE, Norepinephrine; CORT, Cortisol; Amy, Amygdala; HC, Hippocampus; vmPFC, Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex

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