Sounding it out: Auditory stimulation and overnight memory processing

Marcus O. Harrington, Scott A. Cairney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose of Review: Auditory stimulation is a technique that can enhance neural oscillations linked to overnight memory consolidation. In this review, we evaluate the impacts of auditory stimulation on the neural oscillations of sleep and associated memory processes in a variety of populations. Recent Findings: Cortical EEG recordings of slow-wave sleep (SWS) are characterised by two cardinal oscillations: slow oscillations (SOs) and sleep spindles. Auditory stimulation delivered in SWS enhances SOs and phase-coupled spindle activity in healthy children and adults, children with ADHD, adults with mild cognitive impairment and patients with major depression. Under certain conditions, auditory stimulation bolsters the benefits of SWS for memory consolidation, although further work is required to fully understand the factors affecting stimulation-related memory gains. Recent work has turned to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, demonstrating that auditory stimulation can be used to manipulate REM sleep theta oscillations. Summary: Auditory stimulation enhances oscillations linked to overnight memory processing and shows promise as a technique for enhancing the memory benefits of sleep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-119
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Sleep Medicine Reports
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Closed-loop stimulation
  • Memory consolidation
  • Rapid eye movement sleep
  • Sleep spindles
  • Slow oscillations
  • Slow-wave sleep

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