Give it time, and sleep

Apr 17, 2007

Researchers at McGill University and Harvard Medical School have established a direct link between sleep and improved relational memory function. Their study is published today in the April 16 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Sleep clearly has a favourable effect on human relational memory — the memory that allows us to draw connections between facts and events," explains Professor Debra Titone, Associate Professor of Psychology at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Language and Memory.

The study's fifty-six subjects were shown five pairs of abstract patterns that had a hierarchy that was unfamiliar to them. They then learned that some patterns were correct and some were incorrect. After a period of study, the subjects were tested in three groups for their understanding of the hierarchies of the pairs of patterns and for their inferential abilities. The first group was tested after a 20 minute-long rest, the second after 12 hours, with or without sleep, and the third was tested 24 hours later.

The results showed that after a learning period, memory continues to process information during periods of sleep, which allows the brain to associate new memories with one another. "It's like making a soup," said psychology Professor Matthew Walker, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Harvard Medical School. "Just putting all the ingredients in a pot won't do it, they have to be left to marinate and cook together. After many hours, particularly after sleeping, the brain can consolidate the elements of individual memories in the same storage space."

Source: McGill University

Explore further: Drugs used to treat lung disease work with the body clock

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scalping can raise ticket prices

1 hour ago

Scalping gets a bad rap. For years, artists and concert promoters have stigmatized ticket resale as a practice that unfairly hurts their own sales and forces fans to pay exorbitant prices for tickets to sold-out concerts. ...

Tropical Storm Genevieve forms in Eastern Pacific

4 hours ago

The seventh tropical depression of the Eastern Pacific Ocean formed and quickly ramped up to a tropical storm named "Genevieve." NOAA's GOES-West satellite captured an infrared image of the newborn storm ...

Recommended for you

New technology allows hair to reflect almost any color

Jul 25, 2014

What if you could alter your hair to reflect any color in the spectrum? What if you could use a flatiron to press a pattern into your new hair color? Those are possibilities suggested by researchers from ...

User comments : 0