Researchers with the University of Bern have unveiled in their new findings on how sleep helps to process emotions.
As published in the journal Science, the new study establishes how the brain processes emotions during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep to consolidate the storage of positive emotions and minimizing the consolidation of negative emotions.
The study provides a more comprehensive understanding of the processing of emotions during sleep.
The findings may also be beneficial for the potential development of new therapeutic targets for patients dealing with the maladaptive processing of traumatic memories, as is the case with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We found that REM sleep is associated with a somatodendritic decoupling in pyramidal neurons of the prefrontal cortex,” the study uncovered.
“This decoupling reflects a shift of inhibitory balance between parvalbumin neuron–mediated somatic inhibition and vasoactive intestinal peptide–mediated dendritic disinhibition, mostly driven by neurons from the central medial thalamus.”
According to the findings, “Somatodendritic decoupling during REM sleep promotes opposite synaptic plasticity mechanisms that optimize emotional responses to future behavioral stressors.”