The neurophysiological properties of rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) are believed to tune down stressor-related emotional responses. While prior experimental findings are controversial, evidence suggests that affective habituation is hindered if REMS is fragmented. To elucidate the topic, we evoked self-conscious negative affect in the participants (N = 32) by exposing them to their own out-of-tune singing in the evening. Affective response to the stressor was measured with skin conductance response and subjectively reported embarrassment. To address possible inter-individual variance toward the stressor, we measured the shame-proneness of participants with an established questionnaire. The stressor was paired with a sound cue to pilot a targeted memory reactivation (TMR) protocol during the subsequent night's sleep. The sample was divided into three conditions: control (no TMR), TMR during slow-wave sleep, and TMR during REMS. We found that pre- to post-sleep change in affective response was not influenced by TMR. However, REMS percentage was associated negatively with overnight skin conductance response habituation, especially in those individuals whose REMS was fragmented. Moreover, shame-proneness interacted with REM fragmentation such that the higher the shame-proneness, the more the affective habituation was dependent on non-fragmented REMS. In summary, the potential of REMS in affective processing may depend on the quality of REMS as well as on individual vulnerability toward the stressor type.
- 515 Psykologia