DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afad228 ISSN: 0002-0729

Acoustic stimulation during sleep predicts long-lasting increases in memory performance and beneficial amyloid response in older adults

Marina Wunderlin, Céline Jacqueline Zeller, Samira Rafaela Senti, Kristoffer Daniel Fehér, Debora Suppiger, Patric Wyss, Thomas Koenig, Charlotte Elisabeth Teunissen, Christoph Nissen, Stefan Klöppel, Marc Alain Züst
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • General Medicine



Sleep and neurodegeneration are assumed to be locked in a bi-directional vicious cycle. Improving sleep could break this cycle and help to prevent neurodegeneration. We tested multi-night phase-locked acoustic stimulation (PLAS) during slow wave sleep (SWS) as a non-invasive method to improve SWS, memory performance and plasma amyloid levels.


32 healthy older adults (agemean: 68.9) completed a between-subject sham-controlled three-night intervention, preceded by a sham-PLAS baseline night.


PLAS induced increases in sleep-associated spectral-power bands as well as a 24% increase in slow wave-coupled spindles, known to support memory consolidation. There was no significant group-difference in memory performance or amyloid-beta between the intervention and control group. However, the magnitude of PLAS-induced physiological responses were associated with memory performance up to 3 months post intervention and beneficial changes in plasma amyloid. Results were exclusive to the intervention group.


Multi-night PLAS is associated with long-lasting benefits in memory and metabolite clearance in older adults, rendering PLAS a promising tool to build upon and develop long-term protocols for the prevention of cognitive decline.

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