Memory processing in great apes: the effect of time and sleep



Martin-Ordas G & Call J (2011) Memory processing in great apes: the effect of time and sleep. Biology Letters, 7 (6), pp. 829-832.

Following encoding, memory remains temporarily vulnerable to disruption. Consolidation refers to offline time-dependent processes that continue after encoding and stabilize, transform or enhance the memory trace. Memory consolidation resulting from sleep has been reported for declarative and non-declarative memories in humans. We first investigated the temporal course of memory retrieval in chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans. We found that the amount of retrieved information was time dependent: apes' performance degraded after 1 and 2 h, stabilized after 4 h, started to increase after 8 and 12 h and fully recovered after 24 h. Second, we show that although memories during wakefulness were highly vulnerable to interference from events similar to those witnessed during the original encoding event, an intervening period of sleep not only stabilized apes' memories into more permanent ones but also protected them against interference.

great apes; time; sleep; memory; interference

Biology Letters: Volume 7, Issue 6

Publication date23/12/2011
Publication date online01/06/2011
Date accepted by journal11/05/2011
PublisherThe Royal Society

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Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Senior Lecturer, Psychology