Sunday, 3 August 2008

Memory research roundup - Sleep

I've previously posted on the effect of sleep on our learning and memory effectiveness in Snooze and Learn Faster and Six minute nap may boost memory.

Here's yet another study supporting the need for sleep to consolidate a new experience.


To sleep, perchance to remember
(Nice title, not mine but a similar Shakespearian steal as Learning As You Like It)

Neuroscientists at Geneva University have discovered that sleep can produce a lasting impact on how the brain processes and stores newly learnt information. The research, conducted by Sophie Schwartz of the Neurology and Imaging of Cognition laboratory at Geneva University, involved subjects being exposed to new visual stimuli, such as a face or tasks like tracing a moving dot with a joystick. They were then allowed to sleep normally - or not.

Scientists compared a whole night of normal sleep with a whole night of sleep deprivation, naps versus no naps, and eight hours of night sleep compared with eight hours of being awake during the day. The brain changes were highly localised and relevant to the task the volunteer had been set.


Brain scans of humans and animals have indicated that bursts of information pass between the neocortex and the hippocampus during the first hours of sleep, known as slow wave sleep. It is during slow wave sleep that the brain remembers declarative or episodic memory – precise facts a person can access consciously. Our skills – or procedural memory – are encoded during the rapid eye movement sleep, which is more abundant during the latter hours of the night.

Right, I'd better get off to bed myself now for a bit of my own consolidation...

2 comments:

NJTOM said...

"Brain scans of humans and animals have indicated that bursts of information pass between the neocortex and the hippocampus during the first hours of sleep, known as slow wave sleep. It is during slow wave sleep that the brain remembers declarative or episodic memory – precise facts a person can access consciously."


If this is correct than how can the current medical advice to prevent Slow-wave sleep in infants be safe? Slow-wave sleep is when infants die of SIDS. So, doctors no longer allow infants to get slow-wave sleep. Is this safe?

Lars Hyland said...

Thanks for your comment. Your own articles have prompted me to post again. I'd be interested in your further thoughts.