Journal of Undergraduate Research


sleep-dependent memory, consolidation, discriminability, generalizability of learning


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




The goal of this study was to determine how sleep affects memory recall in an academic setting with relation to memory discrimination and memory generalization. Memory generalization depends on the computational process of pattern completion, which is the brain’s ability to retrieve a memory representation based on a partial or modified stimulus (such as viewing a false statement as true if it has many true elements embedded in it). Memory discrimination depends on the computational process of pattern separation, which is the brain’s ability to store a memory as distinct and separate from other, similar memories. Current models of sleep and its effects on memory posit that during sleep, memory representations are shifted from the brain’s hippocampus into the cortex. Furthermore, memories stored in the cortex appear to be more generalized and stable, but less specific than those stored in the hippocampus. Based on this previous research, it was our hypothesis that when recalling information learned hours prior, sleep will make a person tend towards generalization rather than discrimination.