It's not just a matter of physical recharge. Researchers say sleep can rescue memories in a biological process of storing and consolidating them deep in the brain's complex circuitry.
Researchers who conducted the experiments said the results may influence how students learn, and someday could be incorporated into treatments for mental illnesses involving memories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.//
However, other scientists who were not involved in the experiments said additional research is needed into the sleep-memory connection.
In separate studies, scientists trained college-age people to perform specific tasks, then tested them to see how much they recalled after either a night's sleep or several hours awake.
The study found that test subjects who listened to a voice synthesizer's murky speech understood more words after a night of sleep than counterparts who were tested just hours after the training, with no sleep.
"We all have the experience of going to sleep with a question and waking up with the solution," said a professor of neurobiology .
Researchers say, it could be that a person acquires so many memories each day that some details are lost in that jumble -- but that the brain sorts and reorganizes the memories during sleep.
Or, memories could actually be lost during the day, he said, but reconstituted by the brain during sleep by some process that taps into the general rules the test subjects learned in their voice-recognition training.
The brain's hard drive
James L. McGaugh, director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, said the voice recognition training is similar to learning a new language and is therefore more complex than being taught to repeat a simple task. In the tests, the subjects never heard the same synthesized word twice.
"These are highly interesting findings that add additional information concerning the affects of sleep on memory," he saiPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
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