Tags: sleep | learning | music

Sleep Enhances Learning

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 02:03 PM

Sleep helps the mind process and remember recently learned information better, new research into music studies has found.
In fact, listening to recordings while you sleep of something you’re trying to learn – a new musical piece or foreign language, for instance – appears to stimulate brain activity that can help you acquire the knowledge or skill.
The provocative study, by Northwestern University researchers, builds on evidence that suggests memories can be reactivated during sleep and storage of them can be strengthened in the process.
"Our results extend prior research by showing that external stimulation during sleep can influence a complex skill," said Ken A. Paller, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern who headed the study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
For the study, research participants learned how to play two musical tunes, then took a 90-minute nap. While they slept, Paller and his colleagues played one of the tunes that had been practiced, but not the second.
By monitoring brain scans of the participants, the researchers made sure to play the tune during slow-wave sleep, a stage of linked to cementing memories. When they awoke, participants were asked to play both tunes they had just learned. Researchers found they made fewer errors playing the melody they listened to while they slept, compared to the second tune.
"We also found that electrophysiological signals during sleep correlated with the extent to which memory improved," said researcher James Antony of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Northwestern. "These signals may thus be measuring the brain events that produce memory improvement during sleep."
Researchers said their findings that sleep enhances learning may apply to a wide variety of skills people are learning – including new languages, behaviors and even habits.
"If you were learning how to speak in a foreign language during the day, for example, and then tried to reactivate those memories during sleep, perhaps you might enhance your learning," said co-researcher Paul J. Reber.

© HealthDay

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Sleep helps the mind remember recently learned skills, a new music study shows.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 02:03 PM
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