Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing

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Cognitive neuroscience continues to build meaningful connections between affective behavior and human brain function. Within the biological sciences, a similar renaissance has taken place, focusing on the role of sleep in various neurocognitive processes and, most recently, on the interaction between sleep and emotional regulation. This review surveys an array of diverse findings across basic and clinical research domains, resulting in a convergent view of sleep-dependent emotional brain processing. On the basis of the unique neurobiology of sleep, the authors outline a model describing the overnight modulation of affective neural systems and the (re)processing of recent emotional experiences, both of which appear to redress the appropriate next-day reactivity of limbic and associated autonomic networks. Furthermore, a rapid eye movement (REM) sleep hypothesis of emotional-memory processing is proposed, the implications of which may provide brain-based insights into the association between sleep abnormalities and the initiation and maintenance of mood disturbances. © 2009 American Psychological Association.




Walker, M. P., & van der Helm, E. (2009). Overnight Therapy? The Role of Sleep in Emotional Brain Processing. Psychological Bulletin, 135(5), 731–748. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016570

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