Sleep protects memories

Sleep not only protects memories from outside interferences, but also helps strengthen them, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 28 , May 5, 2007.

The study looked at memory recall with and without interference (competing information). Forty-eight people between the ages of 18 and 30 took part in the study. All had normal, healthy sleep routines and were not taking any medications. Participants were divided evenly into four groups, a wake group without interference, a wake group with interference, a sleep group without interference and a sleep group with interference. All groups were taught the same 20 pairs of words in the initial training session.

The wake groups were taught the word pairings at 9 a.m. and then tested on them at 9 p.m. after 12 hours awake. The sleep groups were taught the word pairs at 9 p.m. and tested on them at 9 a.m. after a night of sleep. Just prior to testing, the interference groups were given a second list of word pairs to remember. The first word in each pair was the same on both lists, but the second word was different, testing the brain's ability to handle competing information, known as interference. The interference groups were then tested on both lists.

The study found that people who slept after learning the information performed best, successfully recalling more words. Those in the sleep group without interference were able to recall 12 percent more word pairings from the first list than the wake group without interference. With interference, the recall rate was 44 percent higher for the sleep group.

"This is the first study to show that sleep protects memories from interference," said study author Jeffrey Ellenbogen, MD, with Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "These results provide important insights into how the sleeping brain interacts with memories: it appears to strengthen them. Perhaps, then, sleep disorders might worsen memory problems seen in dementia."

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
New study highlights impact of sleep disturbances on COVID-19 and long COVID