Sleep over it!

I always had complete faith in my teacher! Research seems to prove that she was right!!

My tendency to forget what was taught in the class invited not-so-happy comments and suggestions from her. The most oft repeated one was ‘Make a pillow of your books and sleep over it. Something will go inside your head by osmosis’! While my skull is not exactly a permeable membrane, her point is well taken.

I deeply suspect that John Rudoy, the psychologist must have received a similar suggestion from his teacher. He devised an interesting experiment that confirms what my teacher always knew instinctively.

Here is an excerpt from the British Psychological Society’s blog ‘Scientists Find Way To Strengthen Memories During Sleep’.

“Twelve participants looked on as fifty objects appeared one at a time in various locations on a computer screen. Importantly, as each object appeared it was accompanied by a characteristic noise – for example a cat appeared with a meow and a kettle with a whistle. Several rounds of learning took place until the participants had estimated the approximate location of each object at least once. A final pre-nap test was then performed so that the researchers knew how well participants knew each object location before they went to sleep.

That the participants had nodded off was confirmed with brain wave recordings via scalp electrodes. But here’s the clever bit. As the participants dozed off into non-REM slow-wave sleep, the researchers played the sounds associated with 25 of the objects. The objects that were cued in this way were carefully chosen such that pre-nap memory performance had been equal for cued and un-cued objects.

The participants woke up after about an hour and the exciting finding is that although their overall memory accuracy was lower compared with before the nap, their performance for the objects cued whilst they slept was superior to un-cued objects, even though pre-nap performance for the two object groups had been equal.

I am willing to be a guinea pig for your experiments, John!