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Study shows sounds during sleep can help memory

RATE THIS! +11
Posted in Science on 28th Apr, 2013 12:47 AM by AlexMuller

If you’re not willing to send electrical shocks through your brain – “mild” as they might be – to become smarter, here’s a much gentler option: play sounds while you sleep. Researchers have found that “carefully timed” sounds, like the rise and fall of waves washing against the shore, can help people remember things that they learned the previous day.

 

In the human brain a network of neurons are often activated together. The collective rise and fall of activity of the network produces oscillations, the lines we see in an EEG. At different times the brain oscillates at different frequencies. During sleep the brain produces slow, <1 Hz oscillations – hence the term “slow-wave sleep” – and these oscillations are thought to be important for consolidating memories. The idea that the scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany wanted to test was whether or not auditory stimulation that boosted the slow-wave oscillations also boosted memory.

 

The study included 11 people who learned word associations right before they went to bed. Their word assocaition memory was tested before they went to sleep and then again the following day. While they slept, they were played short durations of pink noise, a hissing sound similar to white noise. Importantly, the pink noise sounds were timed to the sleeping person’s “slow-wave” brain oscillations. When the individuals received the pink noise stimulation they were able to remember twice as many word associations than without the stimulation. When they repeated the experiment with pink noise that was not synchronized to the slow-waves, they saw no improvement in memory.



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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-05-08
+0
If you want to comment do the effort to read the paper. It is published in one of the best neuroscience journals. It is a small study but the results are statistically significant even with such small sample. It is just a pilot study and this is what you need to get fund for a more systematic clinical study. It was tested on young people but it could be very beneficial in an aging population where memory loss is a serious life impacting problem. It is not like previous studies involving sounds during sleep. The pink noise bursts were precisely synchronized to the brain waves. During slow wave sleep there are up and down states, when the neurons fire and are silent, the researcher synchronized precisely the pulses to either the up or down states of the slow waves. Only the up state seemed to increase memory and the result makes sense from a neuroscience point of view. Slow waves are implicated in many processes besides memory (metabolism, hormone regulation, aging) and boosting them through a simple and safe method as sound is a great breakthrough. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-05-08
+0
When journalists talk about science, they dumb it down and some of the things they say are imprecise and don't explain clearly enough the results. It is a very good study done by some world renown experts in the slow wave sleep. The link between slow wave sleep and memory consolidation is very well established by hundreds of studies. What was done here is to actually boost slow waves synchronization and efficiency using sounds that were locked to the brain waves of the subjects. The experimenters use the individual brain waves and created pulses of sound when a particular state of the slow waves was reached. During these states neurons fire or are silent and many important events are happening in the brain at these phases, like synapses are being pruned or reinforced to make memory stronger or weaker according to what the brain considers worthwhile to remember or discarded. The sample is small but the results are so good to make them still statistically significant. It needs to be validated by other groups but this how you do this type of study, first a pilot and then a larger group clinical study. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-09-06
+0
hJvERY Im thankful for the blog post. Really Cool. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-09-13
+0
a2iARO Appreciate you sharing, great article post.Thanks Again. Will read on... Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-09-24
+0
Ealg7S Really informative article post. Much obliged. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-10-16
+0
nwCSki Thanks a lot for the post.Much thanks again. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-10-24
+0
ZpGYoQ A round of applause for your article post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-10-26
+0
16PxDC Thanks-a-mundo for the article post.Really thank you! Cool. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-10-26
+0
51ouxX Hey, thanks for the article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-02
+0
zVIFVS I loved your blog article.Really thank you! Keep writing. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-22
+0
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