Sleep & Learning

The consolidation of newly acquired information in long-term memory is of crucial importance and sleep plays a pivotal role in this process (Karni et al. 1994, Maquet 2001, Diekelmann & Born 2010, Rasch & Born 2013). Sleep affects learning processes of bird song and human speech (Fenn et al. 2003, Derégnaucourt et al. 2005), probably through neural replays during off-line processing (Margoliash & Schmidt 2010). Bats are apt vocal learners (Esser 1994, Boughman 1998, Knörnschild et al. 2010, 2012) but Chiropteran sleep and its influence on learning processes has not been investigated in a systematic way so far.

In cooperation with Dr. Karsten Rauss from the Institute for Medical Psychology and Behavioural Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen in Germany, I currently work on the establishment of systematic sleep measurements in bats to develop a classification system for Chiropteran sleep stages. Subsequently, we plan to test the influence of sleep on learning processes, e.g. the acquisition of new foraging tasks or vocal production learning.

bat sleep_small

Boughman. 1998. Proc R Soc Lond B 265:227-233
Derégnaucourt et al. 2005. Nature 433:710-6
Diekelmann & Born. 2010. Nature Rev Neurosci 11:114-126
Esser. 1994. NeuroReport 5:1718-1720
Fenn et al. 2003. Nature 425:614-6
Karni et al. 1994. Science 265:679-682
Knörnschild et al. 2010. Biol Lett 6:156-159
Knörnschild et al. 2012. Anim Behav 84:671-679
Maquet. 2001. Science 294:1048-1052
Margoliash & Schmidt. 2010. Brain Lang 115:45-58
Rasch & Born. 2013. Physiol Rev 93:681-766