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Author Notes:

Correspondence to: Michael K. Scullin, PhD, Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, 1841 Clifton Road, Room 506, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. Email: michael.scullin@emory.edu

We are appreciative of Jill Shelton and Tyler Harrison for their helpful comments during the preparation of this article.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by the National Institutes on Health (grant number R01 NS-050595 to D.L.B., F32 AG-041543 to M.K.S., KL2 RR-025009 to L.M.T., UL1 RR-025008 for the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute).

M.K.S. was also partially supported by a Cottrell Fellowship from Emory University School of Medicine.


  • consolidation
  • sleep
  • working memory
  • training
  • Parkinson's disease
  • dementia with Lewy bodies

Nocturnal sleep enhances working memory training in Parkinson's disease but not Lewy body dementia


Journal Title:



Volume 135, Number 9


, Pages 2789-2797

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Working memory is essential to higher order cognition (e.g. fluid intelligence) and to performance of daily activities. Though working memory capacity was traditionally thought to be inflexible, recent studies report that working memory capacity can be trained and that offline processes occurring during sleep may facilitate improvements in working memory performance. We utilized a 48-h in-laboratory protocol consisting of repeated digit span forward (short-term attention measure) and digit span backward (working memory measure) tests and overnight polysomnography to investigate the specific sleep-dependent processes that may facilitate working memory performance improvements in the synucleinopathies. We found that digit span backward performance improved following a nocturnal sleep interval in patients with Parkinson's disease on dopaminergic medication, but not in those not taking dopaminergic medication and not in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Furthermore, the improvements in patients with Parkinson's disease on dopaminergic medication were positively correlated with the amount of slow-wave sleep that patients obtained between training sessions and negatively correlated with severity of nocturnal oxygen desaturation. The translational implication is that working memory capacity is potentially modifiable in patients with Parkinson's disease but that sleep disturbances may first need to be corrected.

Copyright information:

© The Author (2012). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com

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