Robert Stickgold, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Center for Sleep and Cognition
330 Brookline Ave., FD-861
Boston, MA 02215
Visit my lab page here.
My lab’s current work looks at the nature and function of sleep and dreams from a cognitive neuroscience perspective, with an emphasis on the role of sleep and dreams in memory consolidation and integration. In addition to behavioral studies, we use cutting edge EEG signal-processing techniques, including wavelet and microstate analyses, to identify the brain correlates of these sleepdependent phenomena. We are also investigating alterations in sleep-dependent memory consolidation in patients with sleep apnea, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and PTSD.
Our dream studies have demonstrated that dream content can be manipulated experimentally, and that patients with dense amnesia can be induced to dream about experiences for which they have no conscious (declarative) memory. More recently, we have shown that sleep-dependent improvement on a spatial navigation task is limited to those individuals who report dreaming about the task, providing arguably the strongest evidence to date of a functional role of dreaming, specifically in sleep-dependent memory processing.
We have identified several forms of sleep-dependent memory processing, from the consolidation, cortical reorganization, and enhancement of procedural memory to the extraction and selective consolidation of gist memories and the discovery of the complex rules that govern the world around us. These studies have also identified the specific sleep stages and patterns of brain activity that mediate these effects.
Our research has shown that one form of sleep-dependent memory processing is absent in patients with schizophrenia, in parallel with a disease-related decrease in a the frequency of sleep spindles in their EEGs, and preliminary findings suggest that normal sleep spindle activity and sleep-dependent memory processing can be restored pharmacologically. We have shown the same deficit in sleepdependent memory processing is patients with mild sleep apnea, where the deficit is correlated with the number of arousals occurring during the night.
For a complete listing of publications click here.
Last Update: 10/30/2013