GRE Reading Comprehension
Some researchers contend that sleep plays no role in the consolidation of declarative memory (i.e., memory involving factual information). These researchers note that people with impairments in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep continue to lead normal lives, and they argue that if sleep were crucial for memory, then these individuals would have apparent memory deficits. Yet the same researchers acknowledge that the cognitive capacities of these individuals have never been systematically examined, nor have they been the subject of studies of tasks on which performance reportedly depends on sleep. Even if such studies were done, they could only clarify our understanding of the role of REM sleep, not sleep in general.
These researchers also claim that improvements of memory overnight can be explained by the mere passage of time, rather than attributed to sleep. But recent studies of memory performance after sleep — including one demonstrating that sleep stabilizes declarative memories from future interference caused by mental activity during wakefulness — make this claim unsustainable. Certainly there are memory-consolidation processes that occur across periods of wakefulness, some of which neither depend on nor are enhanced by sleep. But when sleep is compared with wakefulness, and performance is better after sleep, then some benefit of sleep for memory must be acknowledged.
The primary purpose of the passage is to
- A present the evidence that supports a particular claim regarding REM sleep and memory
- B describe how various factors contribute to the effect of sleep on memory
- C argue against a particular position regarding sleep's role in memory
- D summarize the most prevalent theory regarding sleep and memory
- E defend the importance of the consolidation of declarative memory
Correct Answer: C