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  • USC SleepHuB Special Seminar

    Thu, Mar 21, 2024 @ 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM

    Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Rebecca Spencer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director of the Sleep Lab Core Facility -University of Massachusetts at Amherst

    Talk Title: Cognitive benefits of sleep in spite of sleep loss in older adults

    Abstract: Sleep benefits memory consolidation in young adults. Evidence suggests that this benefit reflects the active reorganization of memories, moving them from short-term hippocampal storage which is susceptible to interference to long-term more stable storage in the neocortex. Synchronized oscillations in the hippocampus and neocortex during slow wave sleep underlie this memory stabilization. Older adults have reduced slow wave sleep and yet, in many cases, sleep-dependent memory consolidation is preserved. It is important to understand this resilience as it may speak to ways to prevent or intervene in age-related memory loss.  In my talk, I will present studies demonstrating the benefits of sleep on memories in older adults as well as the limitations of this process. I will also present some evidence of possible mechanisms supporting memory consolidation in the face of reduced slow wave sleep with aging. These studies hold relevance for those studying aging from a clinical and cognitive perspective.

    Biography: Rebecca Spencer, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director of the Sleep Lab Core Facility in the Institute of Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research focuses on the role of sleep in cognition and brain changes, specifically lifespan changes in sleep-dependent cognitive processing. In young children, she is interested in how the high levels of sleep during development relate to the massive amount of learning and brain development at this age. In old adults, she studies how age-related changes in sleep contribute to changes in memory and emotion processing. After graduating from Purdue with a PhD in neuroscience in 2002, she went to UC Berkeley where she was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute until 2008. She was the recipient of a NIH Pathways to Independence Award (K99/R00). Her work is currently funded by 3 NIH R01 awards and an NSF grant. She chairs the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) Program Committee.

    Host: Dr. Michael Khoo

    Location: Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center (GER) - 224

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Carla Stanard


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