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 Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>