Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Intellect thrives on sleep

25.02.2002


Events of the day are rehearsed in sleep.
© Getty Images


Land of nod is a learning experience

Cramming all night might help you to scrape through exams, but it won’t make you clever in the long run. Human and animal experiments are lending new support to a common parental adage: that a good night’s sleep is essential to learning.

"Modern life’s erosion of sleep time could be seriously short-changing our education potential," warned Robert Stickgold of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at the meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston this week.



Many pianists find that sleeping on a tune can help their performance. Similarly, in the lab, volunteers’ skill at key-tapping and speed-spotting tasks improved by 20 per cent with one nights’ sleep after training. Extra nights of slumber enhanced skills even more.

If robbed of the first night’s kip, however, subjects went back to being novices - even two days later after catching up on their shut-eye. "How well you do at some things depends not on where you went to school or what your parents do, just on how well you slept last night," said Stickgold.

He and his team have also found that different sleep phases influence different types of learning. Acing a visual test requires relaxed slow-wave sleep in the first quarter of the night, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in the last quarter. A movement test such as key tapping relies more on the non-REM episodes in the later part of the night.

"I think sleep is involved in rehearsing, restructuring and reclassifying our existing world view to allow us to function better," Stickgold said.

Catnap dreams

As pet owners have long suspected, the same may apply to animals. Daniel Margoliash of University of Chicago has found evidence that young birds rehearse their new songs while sleeping. The brain cells that fire when birds make their first faltering efforts at singing show similar activity when they nap. "Birds dream of singing," says Margoliash.

Rats, meanwhile, rehearse running in their sleep. After navigating a spiral maze all day, the rodents’ brains replay electrical signals that are characteristic of the motion throughout the night, Matthew Wilson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the meeting.

"Just like our own dreams, the replay can be recognisable but warped; some events are stretched out over time and others never really happened," said Wilson. He believes that new experiences are generalized and re-evaluated during sleep.

SARA ABDULLA | © Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/020218/020218-20.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

nachricht WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>