BrainsCAN Publications


Sleep-dependent motor sequence memory consolidation in individuals with periodic limb movements

Document Type


Publication Date



Sleep Medicine

First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Periodic limb movements (PLMs) during sleep increase with age and are associated with striatal neurodegeneration and dopamine deficiency. Limb movements are often associated with disruptions to non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Motor skill memory consolidation recruits the striatum, and learning-dependent striatal activation is associated with NREM sleep. Therefore, we investigated whether de novo individuals who significantly experience elevated levels of PLMs but have not been formally diagnosed with periodic limb movement disorder had learning and sleep-related memory deficits and whether these deficits were related to sleep quality and symptom severity. In total, 14 adults with significantly elevated PLMs (PLM condition), 15 age-matched controls (CTRL), and 14 age-matched “disturbed” sleep (through induced leg movements) controls (CTRL-ES) participated. The participants were trained (PM) and retested (AM) on procedural motor sequence learning (MSL) and declarative paired associates memory tasks. Baseline sleep quality was significantly worse in PLM than in CTRL. Despite the continued presence of PLMs in the PLM condition on the experimental night, remarkably, sleep quality improved and arousals decreased, vs. baseline, and did not differ from CTRL. MSL was significantly slower in the PLM condition than in CTRL at training but surprisingly exhibited overnight performance gains, which correlated with reduced arousals. As predicted, CTRL but not CTRL-ES had overnight gains in MSL. Taken together, this suggests that in the PLM condition, sleep quality was normalized following MSL, where they derived the same benefit of sleep to procedural memory consolidation as in CTRL. Sleep did not benefit declarative memory. Although preliminary, these results suggest that MSL in individuals with PLMs may provide a benefit to sleep, which in turn may benefit memory consolidation.

This document is currently not available here.