Sleep fulfills vital functions for the brain and body. However, sleep is not a uniform state: alternating substates and oscillation patterns show rich variations on different time scales. In the Sleep & Memory Lab, based at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, we aim to uncover the mechanisms behind this variability and their specific role in the functions of sleep. We are particularly interested in the following topics:

sleep Sleep function. From an evolutionary point of view, spending hours in a non-responsive state seems strikingly non-adaptive. Sleep thus serves several vital functions to overcompensate for this disadvantage. In our lab, we are particularly interested in cognitive and emotional functions of sleep, but also more basic functions such as endocrine regulation and metabolic brain clearance – and how these functions are dysregulated in brain disorders such as major depression or Alzheimer’s disease.
lucid dreaming Dreaming and sleep hacking. Conscious experience fluctuates considerably across the sleep-wake cycle: alert attention alternates with mind wandering, sleep onset imagery, dreamless sleep and vivid dreaming. We study consciousness during sleep, considering the phenomenon of lucid dreaming particularly interesting as both a model case and tool. We further investigate other strategies to hack sleep function, including sensory and brain stimulation and polyphasic sleep schedules.
sleeptrip Sleep research methods. Polysomnography as the gold standard in sleep research generates rich and multimodal datasets. We develop and validate new tools for the recording and analysis of sleep data, from minimal sleep EEG headbands to combined sleep EEG/fMRI recordings and analysis pipelines for big sleep data. One focus lies on the extension of the popular FieldTrip EEG/MEG analysis toolbox towards the SleepTrip toolbox for comprehensive analysis of multimodal sleep data.
mnemonics Mnemonics. Memory skills differ across the general population – from age-related memory decline to the outstanding feats of memory champions. We investigate different strategies of learning and memory enhancement, with a focus on the mnemonic training strategies used in memory sports. Beyond the efficacy of mnemonics in naïve subjects, developmental contexts and age-related decline, we are particularly interested in the neural mechanisms underlying mnemonic training and superior memory skills.
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