Neural Dynamics of Associative Learning during Human Sleep

Andrés Canales-Johnson, Emiliano Merlo, Tristan A. Bekinschtein, Anat Arzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent evidence indicates that humans can learn entirely new information during sleep. To elucidate the neural dynamics underlying sleep-learning, we investigated brain activity during auditory-olfactory discriminatory associative learning in human sleep. We found that learning-related delta and sigma neural changes are involved in early acquisition stages, when new associations are being formed. In contrast, learning-related theta activity emerged in later stages of the learning process, after tone-odor associations were already established. These findings suggest that learning new associations during sleep is signaled by a dynamic interplay between slow-waves, sigma, and theta activity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1708-1715
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number3
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Associative-learning
  • sigma
  • sleep
  • slow-waves
  • theta


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