When you have learned words in another language, it may be worth listening to them again in your sleep. A study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has now shown that this method reinforces memory.
Reluctant students and sleepyheads take note: a study conducted at the universities of Zurich and Fribourg has shown that German-speaking students are better at remembering the meaning of newly learned Dutch words when they hear the words again in their sleep.
"Our method is easy to use in daily life and can be adopted by anyone," says study director and biopsychologist Björn Rasch. However, the results were obtained in strictly controlled laboratory conditions. It remains to be seen whether they can be successfully transferred to everyday situations.
In their trial, which has been published in the journal "Cerebral Cortex" (*), Thomas Schreiner and Björn Rasch asked 60 volunteers to learn pairs of Dutch and German words at ten o'clock in the evening. Half of the volunteers then went to bed. While they slept, some of the Dutch words they had learned before going to bed were played back quietly enough not to awaken them. The remaining volunteers stayed awake to listen to the Dutch words on the playback.
The scientists awoke the sleeping volunteers at two in the morning, then tested everyone's knowledge of the new words a little later. The group that had been asleep were better at remembering the German translations of the Dutch words they had heard in their sleep. The volunteers who had remained awake were unable to remember words they had heard on the playback any better than those they had not.
Reinforcement of spontaneous activation
Schreiner and Rasch believe that their results provide further evidence that sleep helps memory, probably because the sleeping brain spontaneously activates previously learned subject matter. Playing this subject matter back during sleep can reinforce this activation process and thus improve recall. For example, a person who plays a memory card game to the scent of roses, and is then re-exposed to the same scent while asleep, is subsequently better at remembering where a particular card is in the stack, as Rasch was able to show in another study a few years ago.
Schreiner and Rasch have now observed the beneficial effect of sleep on learning foreign words. A certain amount of swotting is still needed, though. "You can only successfully activate words that you have learned before you go to sleep. Playing back words you don't know while you're asleep has no effect," says Schreiner.
(*) Thomas Schreiner and Björn Rasch (2014). Boosting Vocabulary Learning by Verbal Cueing During Sleep. Cerebral Cortex online: doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu139
(Journalists can obtain the article from the SNSF as a PDF file by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com)
Prof Björn Rasch
Cognitive Biopsychology and Methods
Department of Psychology
University of Fribourg
Tel. +41 26 300 76 37
Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Brain connectivity reveals hidden motives
04.03.2016 | Universität Zürich
Since the completion of the human genome an important goal has been to elucidate the function of the now known proteins: a new molecular method enables the investigation of the function for thousands of proteins in parallel. Applying this new method, an international team of researchers with leading participation of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to identify hundreds of previously unknown interactions among proteins.
The human genome and those of most common crops have been decoded for many years. Soon it will be possible to sequence your personal genome for less than 1000...
3D printing revolutionized the manufacturing of complex shapes in the last few years. Using additive depositing of materials, where individual dots or lines...
R2D2, a joint project to analyze and development high-TRL processes and technologies for manufacture of flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been successfully completed.
In contrast to point light sources like LEDs made of inorganic semiconductor crystals, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are light-emitting surfaces. Their...
High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!
In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...
Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."
Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. It is...
30.06.2016 | Event News
28.06.2016 | Event News
09.06.2016 | Event News
30.06.2016 | Health and Medicine
30.06.2016 | Life Sciences
30.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy