ScienceDaily (June 24, 2012) Want to nail that tune that you have practiced and practiced? Maybe you should take a nap with the same melody playing during your sleep, new provocative Northwestern University research suggests.
The research grows out of exciting existing evidence that suggests that memories can be reactivated during sleep and storage of them can be strengthened in the process.
In the Northwestern study, research participants learned how to play two artificially generated musical tunes with well-timed key presses. Then while the participants took a 90-minute nap, the researchers presented one of the tunes that had been practiced, but not the other.
“Our results extend prior research by showing that external stimulation during sleep can influence a complex skill,” stated Ken A. Paller, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and senior author of the study.
By using EEG methods to record the brain’s electrical activity, the researchers ensured that the soft musical “cues” were presented during slow-wave sleep, a stage of sleep previously linked to cementing memories. Participants made fewer errors when pressing the keys to produce the melody that had been presented while they slept, compared to the melody not presented.
The age-old myth that you can learn a foreign language while you sleep is sure to come to mind, stated Paul J. Reber, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern and a co-author of the study.
“The critical difference is that our research shows that memory is strengthened for something you have already learned,” Reber said. “Rather than learning something new in your sleep, we are speaking about enhancing an existing memory by re-activating information recently acquired.”
The researchers, he said, are now thinking about how their findings could apply to many other types of learning.
“If you were learning how to talk in a foreign language during the day, for example, and then tried to reactivate those memories during sleep, perhaps you might enhance your learning.”
Paller stated he hopes the study will help them learn more about the basic brain mechanisms that transpire during sleep to help preserve memory storage.
“These same mechanisms may not only grant an abundance of memories to be maintained throughout a lifetime, but they may also grant memory storage to be enriched through the generation of novel connections among memories,” he said.
The study opens the door for future studies of sleep-based memory processing for many different types of motor skills, habits and behavioral dispositions, Paller said.
Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:
Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Northwestern University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Antony, J.W., Gobel, E.W., O’Hare, J.K., Reber, P.J., & Paller, K.A. Cued Memory Reactivation During Sleep Influences Skill Learning. Nature Neuroscience, June 24, 2012
Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.
- 18.4 Percent Inpatients Smokes During Hospital Stay
- Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
- Hair samples from infants show exposure to anti-HIV drugs in the womb and during breast-feeding
- Thousands lose Medicare billing rights during revalidation
- Cancer Can Be Treated during Pregnancy
- Air Pollution Changes During Beijing Olympics Linked To Systemic Inflammation And Thrombosis Changes
- Obese Kidney Donors Risk Complications During Surgery
- Levemir Approved For Diabetes During Pregnancy, USA
- Levemir Approved For Diabetes Diabetes During Pregnancy, USA
- Methamphetamine Usage During Pregnancy May Cause Childhood Behavioral Problems
Submited at Monday, June 25th, 2012 at 8:30 am on Uncategorized by samantha
Comment RSS 2.0 - leave a comment - trackback