Collecting your thoughts: You can do it in your sleep!

Nov 02, 2010
Collecting your thoughts: You can do it in your sleep!

(PhysOrg.com) -- It is one thing to learn a new piece of information, such as a new phone number or a new word, but quite another to get your brain to file it away so it is available when you need it.

A new study published in the by researchers at the University of York and Harvard Medical School suggests that may help to do both.

The scientists found that sleep helps people to remember a newly learned word and incorporate new vocabulary into their "mental lexicon".

During the study, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, researchers taught volunteers new words in the evening, followed by an immediate test. The volunteers slept overnight in the laboratory while their was recorded using an electroencephalogram, or EEG. A test the following morning revealed that they could remember more words than they did immediately after learning them, and they could recognise them faster demonstrating that sleep had strengthened the new memories.

This did not occur in a control group of volunteers who were trained in the morning and re-tested in the evening, with no sleep in between. An examination of the sleep volunteers' brainwaves showed that deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) rather than rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or light sleep helped in strengthening the new memories.

When the researchers examined whether the new words had been integrated with existing knowledge in the mental lexicon, they discovered the involvement of a different type of activity in the sleeping brain. Sleep spindles are brief but intense bursts of brain activity that reflect information transfer between different memory stores in the brain -- the deep in the brain and the neocortex, the surface of the brain.

Memories in the hippocampus are stored separately from other memories, while memories in the neocortex are connected to other knowledge. Volunteers who experienced more sleep spindles overnight were more successful in connecting the new words to the rest of the words in their mental lexicon, suggesting that the new words were communicated from the hippocampus to the during sleep.

Co-author of the paper, Professor Gareth Gaskell, of the University of York's Department of Psychology, said: "We suspected from previous work that sleep had a role to play in the reorganisation of new memories, but this is the first time we've really been able to observe it in action, and understand the importance of spindle activity in the process."

These results highlight the importance of sleep and the underlying brain processes for expanding vocabulary. But the same principles are likely to apply to other types of learning.

Lead author, Dr Jakke Tamminen, said: "New memories are only really useful if you can connect them to information you already know. Imagine a game of chess, and being told that the rule governing the movement of a specific piece has just changed. That new information is only useful to you once you can modify your game strategy, the knowledge of how the other pieces move, and how to respond to your opponent's moves. Our study identifies the brain activity during sleep that organizes new memories and makes those vital connections with existing knowledge."

Explore further: New mapping approach lets scientists zoom in and out as the brain processes sound

More information: The paper ‘Sleep spindle activity is associated with the integration of new memories and existing knowledge’ is published in the Journal of Neuroscience at link www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/30/43/14356

Provided by University of York

4.3 /5 (7 votes)

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kevinrtrs
1.1 / 5 (11) Nov 02, 2010
Just how on earth could this have this evolved? Just think, which came first, the brain or the eye? The brain on the ear? The brain or the mouth? The brain or the nose? Which of these evolved first - the nose, the eye, the ear, the mouth or the skin?

Without a brain, the senses are useless since there's nothing to process the information. In fact there's nothing to connect the sensor to. Having a brain first means that those sensors need to be interfaced to the brain later.
How does the brain know how to process the information coming in from those sensors?
And what about the nerves that connect the sensors to the brain? did that evolve separately too? All by itself, just randomly, with no purpose in sight - pun intended.
The only way it could work would be for everything to be in place at once, otherwise the creature would be severely handicapped to the point of extinction.

Evolution on that kind of scale would be simply miraculous. Fabulous. Marvelous. Impossible.

jjoensuu
Nov 02, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (6) Nov 02, 2010
Just how on earth could this have this evolved?
Over time.
Just think, which came first
None of the above.
Without a brain, the senses are useless since there's nothing to process the information.
Not true.
In fact there's nothing to connect the sensor to.
Also not true
The only way it could work would be for everything to be in place at once, otherwise the creature would be severely handicapped to the point of extinction.
Truncating a lot of useless garbage that you added into your statement for effect, one can tell, from said garbage, that you are ridiculously ignorant.

Which came first kev, the wheel or the axle? A car couldn't exist with jsut an axle and no wheel, nor could it exist with a wheel and no axle. But when we look back in technology we see that the two came into existence together, as a rounded log. Then our technology evolved where the "log' construct was subdivided over time, yielding a fully formed and dependent axle/wheel system.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (7) Nov 02, 2010
Now before you go off all hog and no balls about how a car is "engineered by a designer" and think the hypothetical suits your point, let's us look at the other forms of life in the world.

There are flatworms that don't have a brain, but have "eyes" and nervous systems. There are jelly fish that have a "brain" but no "eyes", and then there are creatures that have both eyes and a brain. The senses, and the various tools, (like the ear, eyes, nose, touonge, etc), did not arise independently. Evolution is an emergent phenominon. Wrap your head around the majoesty of reality, rather than the majesty of a creator for once and recognize that everything works as a system based on fundamental laws. 1)The longer you survive, the greater the chance you have for reproduction. 2) Organisms change in small ways over time. 3) any adaptation that increases the chance of survival, increases the chance of said adaptation appearing in the subsequent generation.

These are the rules of evolution.
Royale
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
Nice example S_H. I was reading that first post just thinking 'idiot', but you solidified that for me. It really is funny watching people argue with evolution and just putting faith in a < 2000 year old book that their great grandpa thought would teach them something. Tell me, kev. If you're so anti-evolution which religion is the right one? They're way too different for them to all be right, so maybe you can help us out and tell us which one is the right one. Or, you could try actually thinking critically.. that may be tough though.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (6) Nov 02, 2010
Then our technology evolved where the "log' construct was subdivided over time, yielding a fully formed and dependent axle/wheel system.

Your logic is somewhat lacking in credibility Skeptic - you are taking examples from what we KNOW to have been designed and equating that to evolutionary processes. The two just don't gel and you know it.

Strange to say, but you guys who cling so tightly to evolution need to be prodded into revising your thoughts now and again.

@Royale, you do realize that you're putting your faith in the religion of evolution, don't you? As jjoensuu said: what is reasonable? It actually takes MORE faith to believe in the miracles of evolution than it does to believe in a creator. At least the creator is capable of thought, planning, invention and construction. You credit NOTHING to have those same capabilities. I'd much rather believe in a creator than NOTHING.
I'd like to throw back your challenge : start thinking critically about what it is you believe in.
an_p
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
Without a brain, the senses are useless since there's nothing to process the information.
...
Evolution on that kind of scale would be simply miraculous. Fabulous. Marvelous. Impossible.



never watched a unicellular lifeform under a microscope,like a paramecium? just use the interweb!

no eyes no nerves no brain and no problem - surely marvelous, surely fabulous,
but impossible - nope!
Javinator
5 / 5 (3) Nov 02, 2010
Kevin, the irony of your above post is incredible.

You suggest that evolutionists start thinking critically about what they believe in. The theory of evolution is based on critical thinking.

Observations in nature were/are made, hypotheses were/are being made, tests are done to check these hypotheses and conclusions are made based on these tests.

Evolutionists are always looking for evidence to further their knowledge of evolution/how we came to be. If the theory changes based on evidence, so what? Then the theory changes and people move on making and testing hypotheses to further our understanding.

Your "critical thinking" actually looks for no evidence at all. You take what you can't (or don't try to) understand as impossible for any human to ever understand. Then you make the illogical leap that, because something cannot be understood by man, that God must have made it so.

And what is this based on? A collection of stories by humans over the last few thousand years.
degojoey
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
i would of normally came into this conversation sticking up for the evoloutionists and not the god/creator BUT i have recently discovered the spirit molecule. There MUST be a god, nothing else explains it...
krundoloss
1 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2010
Yes there is probably a God. Does it really matter, though? I mean, we are here, we don't know why and we live and die. Frankly it really doesnt matter if there is a God or not.
Royale
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
Yep. And everyone needs to realize that finding no faults with evolution doesn't mean you can't believe in a creator. Hell, I went to Catholic High School and even they taught evolution. I asked my teacher about it one day, and she said they believe that God created the first spark, but that all the rest came to be through evolution. So keep that in mind. They don't have to clash... I base what I 'believe in' from facts, not based on someone's word. "Oh just take what I say and don't question it." That's what you're doing with religion... just listen to your parents and KNOW that your beliefs have to be right... your parents couldn't possibly be wrong, huh? What about the Travolta's kid? Should he just believe what they do because they say so?
Thex1138
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
We are all actually a bi-product of a stars explosion... a huge gas field in space collapses by gravity into a burning blob which explodes to form the sun... our sun, which then the earth was created in the debris disc left behind, which then consolidated into elements of which water, carbon and other trace elements were over time charged and life emerged from the complex reactions and actions of energies created and transferred... these life chemicals became more complex,.. cells, cells then consolidated into complex life forms... plants, mammals, reptiles, insects etc,.... so in effect we're all made of stars and are part of an ongoing and phenomenally complex interaction of matter and energy... We're all made of stars...
trekgeek1
not rated yet Nov 02, 2010
Wow Kev, an argument from irreducible complexity. I haven't seen one of those outside of YouTube. Speaking of which, you should visit and watch a video by Richard Dawkins regarding the formation of the eye. He demonstrates it for children so it'll be simple to understand. Love, love, love the false dichotomy as well. Either the brain was first, or the eye was...... never mind the possibility of simpler structures forming and EVOLVING into complex systems. There is such a chilling dishonesty among the godders, it's really disturbing. I can honestly say that I hate anybody who lies through their teeth about evolution for the sole purpose of promoting utter nonsense.
Djincs
not rated yet Nov 03, 2010
i would of normally came into this conversation sticking up for the evoloutionists and not the god/creator BUT i have recently discovered the spirit molecule. There MUST be a god, nothing else explains it...

Can you enlighten us what is this incredible molecule, and what exactly cant be explained...I am just curious.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 03, 2010
Your logic is somewhat lacking in credibility Skeptic - you are taking examples from what we KNOW to have been designed and equating that to evolutionary processes.
Like I said in my second post, don't go off all hog and no balls.
The two just don't gel and you know it.
Sorry, you're incorrect. Evolution is change over time. The evolution of technology is a change in our technology over time. Evolution of organisms may use a different method, but the premise is the same.
@Royale, you do realize that you're putting your faith in the religion of evolution, don't you?
Sorry, we don't pray to the DNA molecule, or rape kids.
At least the creator is capable of thought, planning, invention and construction. You credit NOTHING to have those same capabilities.
No, actually we have those same capabilities.
I'd much rather believe in a creator than NOTHING.
I'd rather believe in nothing than prostrate myself before your immoral god.
corymp
5 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2010
who or what made god Kevin?
CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Nov 08, 2010
Referring to the title of the article, I can easily collect my thoughts but there seems to be a hole in the bottom of my collection basket.