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
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene
In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...
The trend-forward world of display technology relies on innovative materials and novel approaches to steadily advance the visual experience, for example through higher pixel densities, better contrast, larger formats or user-friendler design. Fraunhofer ISC’s newly developed materials for optics and electronics now broaden the application potential of next generation displays. Learn about lower cost-effective wet-chemical printing procedures and the new materials at the Fraunhofer ISC booth # 1021 in North Hall D during the SID International Symposium on Information Display held from 22 to 27 May 2016 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Staphylococcus aureus usually is a formidable bacterial pathogen. Sometimes, however, weakened forms are found in the blood of patients. Researchers of the University of Würzburg have now identified one mutation responsible for that phenomenon.
Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is frequently found on the human skin and in the nose where it usually behaves inconspicuously. However, once inside...
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
24.05.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.05.2016 | Information Technology
24.05.2016 | Materials Sciences