State of the art on targeted memory reactivation: Sleep your way to enhanced cognition

Daphne I. Schouten*, Sofia I.R. Pereira, Mattie Tops, Fernando M. Louzada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Targeted memory reactivation is a fairly simple technique that has the potential to influence the course of memory formation through application of cues during sleep. Studies have shown that cueing memory during sleep can lead to either an enhanced or decreased representation of the information encoded in the targeted networks, depending on experimental variations. The effects have been associated with sleep parameters and accompanied by activation of memory related brain areas. The findings suggest a causal role of neuronal replay in memory consolidation and provide evidence for the active system consolidation hypothesis. However, the observed inconsistencies across studies suggest that further research is warranted regarding the underlying neural mechanisms and optimal conditions for the application of targeted memory reactivation. The goal of the present review is to integrate the currently available experimental data and to provide an overview of this technique's limitations and pitfalls, as well as its potential applications in everyday use and clinical treatment. Exploring the open questions herein identified should lead to insight into safer and more effective ways of adjusting memory representations to better suit individual needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Active system consolidation hypothesis
  • Cueing
  • Electroencephalography
  • Memory consolidation
  • Neuronal replay
  • Rapid eye movement sleep
  • Sleep
  • Slow wave sleep
  • Synaptic homeostasis hypothesis
  • Targeted memory reactivation


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