For as long as I can remember, my sister has always impressed me with her ability to remember things that I never could. My memories of childhood are usually vague at best. As I became older and entered college, I realized that I required a LOT more studying than my colleagues. Where most people could get by on “cramming” material for a few hours before, I had to study all materials for several hours a day before I got it right. When it came to learning something new, it was like.. things just didn’t stick.
After I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, and I went to several patient conferences, I realized that complaints of poor memory were very common among us – yet, again, I was not alone. Indeed, it has been shown that memory and cognition are impaired in narcolepsy.
It’s been suspected for a long time that sleep can help consolidate memories. So, for a disease like narcolepsy where the basic sleep architecture is disrupted, it makes sense that narcoleptics might have impaired memory.
A recent study reports that sleep promotes memory formation through the formation and maintenance of dendritic spines on neurons. It would be interesting to see if spine formation is impaired in narcolepsy.
Image credit: www.neuralstainkit.com