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Sara Mednick is the principal investigator of the Mednick Sleep and Cognition (SaC) Lab at the at the University of California, Irvine. The Sleep and Cognition (SaC) Lab is interested in understanding who we are as humans by investigating how we form memories. Memories are at the core of our personal and social histories, our perceptions, and our beliefs. By understanding how memories are formed, processed and retained, we can understand how they can be improved, as well as how memory abilities can falter due to aging or disease. We are specifically interested in translational research questions that lead to improving the lives of people with cognitive impairments.


To accomplish this work, we utilize electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity during sleep and wake. We also use pharmacology and brain stimulation during sleep to improve waking performance. In addition, we use signal processing and computational modeling to reveal patterns in the data not available to the naked eye.


  • Why do some memories tend to become stronger after a period of sleep?

  • How do brain areas communicate during sleep-dependent memory consolidation?

  • Do different types of memory (explicit/declarative vs implicit/non-declarative) require different features of sleep for consolidation?

  • Can we enhance individual sleep features with pharmacology or electrical brain stimulation to enhance memory performance?

  • Can these interventions be used in populations with memory dysfunction, e.g., elderly, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses?

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