Tags: Alzheimer's/Dementia | Memory | learning | brain health | napping

Daytime Naps Boost Memory, Learning

Daytime Naps Boost Memory, Learning
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By    |   Tuesday, 17 November 2015 11:48 AM

A daytime snooze can boost learning by helping to cement recent memories, new research suggests.

Using brain imaging, researchers from the University of Geneva in Switzerland found that sleep appears to increase links between three areas of the brain that are important for forming and consolidating memories and processing rewarding mental activities, Medical News Today reports.

Specifically, the scientists found that receiving rewards as we learn — from grades, to monetary compensation, to encouragement from a teacher — can all help reinforce new information in memory, and daytime naps appear to boost this effect.

"We already knew that sleep helps strengthens memories, but we now also know that it helps us select and retain those that have a rewarding value," said researcher Kinga Igloi, who helped lead the study, reported in the journal eLife.

For the study, Igloi’s team recruited 31 healthy volunteers and asked them examine and remember eight pairs of pictures. They were told that for four of the eight pairs of pictures, there would be a higher reward for remembering them.

After viewing the pictures, the volunteers were given a 90-minute break — during which half of the group was allowed to take a short nap; the other half merely rested.

Following the break, both groups were tested on their memory of the picture pairs. The volunteers were retested after three months.

The results of the memory tests conducted after the 90-minute break showed that both groups remembered the pictures that carried a reward, but those who had napped performed better overall.

In addition, the nappers had better memory of the pictures three months later — a scored much better at remembering the more highly rewarded picture pairs than the individuals who did not nap.

"Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning. During sleep, that information is favorably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory," Igloi explained.

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Taking a daily nap can boost learning by helping to cement recent memories, new research suggests.
Memory, learning, brain health, napping
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 11:48 AM
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