Understanding how sleep-related information processing affects behaviour may allow targeted cognitive enhancement to improve quality of life. Previous evidence demonstrates that implicitly-presented cues are processed during sleep, resulting in enhanced cognition upon awaking; we used a masked priming task to investigate this further. To assess sleep-mediated effects on reactions to implicitly presented primes, participants performed an Affective Priming Task pre-and-post 90 minutes of sleep, compared to an equal period of wakefulness. The Choice Reaction Time Task – a similar binary choice task but without the implicit aspect – was used as a control. 16 healthy participants across a range of ages were tested and sleep monitored using EEG. In stark contrast to the control task, in the Affective Priming Task reaction times significantly improved across all prime types after sleep, but not an equal period of wake. There was no significant change in reaction times on Choice Reaction Time Task after wakefulness or sleep. Rather than a general suppression of all primes, data are more in keeping with specific strategic optimisation of prime processing during sleep. We plan future work to probe the mechanisms and neuroanatomical substrate of sleep-mediated prime processing.
- healthy function
- implicit learning