Influence of Emotional Relevance and Sleep on Learning and Future Decision Making
Our general aim is to better understand how emotional relevance guides the selection of information to be further processed and consolidated in memory.
In the planned project, we will test that the spontaneous reprocessing of relevant information may predominate during conditions of reduced external stimulation, such as quiet wakefulness and sleep.
We will also investigate whether emotions experienced in dreams may influence the consolidation (or forgetting) of emotionally-loaded mental representations, and whether this influence may depend on the activation of specific neural systems related to emotions and motivation (e.g. amygdala, mesolimbic dopaminergic system), as we recently proposed (Perogamvros & Schwartz, Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012) .
Finally, we will also consider individual differences in these distinct effects of emotional relevance, and assess how they may relate to other individual characteristics at the behavioral, neural, and genetic levels.
The expected results will demonstrate that sleep and emotion serve vital functions by fostering adapted reactions to past and future psychological (and physical) threats (or rewards), and can thus jointly contribute to optimize waking functioning.
This emerging view is promising for fundamental and clinical research, as well as for concrete applications toward promoting public health, particularly because sleep loss is ubiquitous in today’s fast-paced society.
More generally, by clarifying the role of emotional relevance in memory and future decision making, the proposed project is highly relevant for emotion research.
This innovative research initiative builds upon the latest developments of neuroimaging methods and optimal local collaborations implicating the NCCR for Affective Sciences and the Brain and Behavioral Lab, among others.