Sleeping Enhances Brain Learning and Negative Memories according to New Study
등록일 2019년 01월 07일 월요일
수정일 2017년 11월 20일 월요일

Photo By ruigsantos via Shutterstock

A new study suggests that sleeping may boost learning and negative memories from recent events.

According to the researchers behind the unpublished study, humans selectively enhance negative memories.The study involved more than 50 healthy participants that were given a memory task.The participants were shown images with either negative or neutral content.Memories of each participant were tested for both negative and neutral contents.After 12 hours, half of the participants slept during the night while the other half stayed awake during the day.The readings from the electroencephalography or EEG revealed that participants who slept during the night remembered the negative images better than those who stayed awake.All of the participants forget the negative and neutral contents at equal rates.

"Curiously, sleep does not treat all memories equally.A night of sleep seems to prevent forgetting of negative items specifically," said Roy Cox, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and an investigator of negative memories.

Cox and the research team believed that the brain's innate ability to remember negative information during sleep might be beneficial.It seems that the brain processes the information as a method to protect itself against those threats in the future.

Another study by Monika Schonauer, a neuroscientist at the University of Tobingen, was able to visualize the memory process of humans during their sleep.Schnauer used EEG to and a learning algorithm to see how the brain processes memories during sleep.The EEG was used for tracking neuron activity while the learning algorithm was used to find differences in brain activity associated with what a person recently learned.

The participants slept in the lab for a night.Half of them was shown photos that contain faces while the other half was shown with lots of houses.Within the eight hours of sleep, the researchers tested if the learning algorithm could predict whether a participant remembered the faces or the houses.The findings revealed a 65 percent accuracy in predicting the content.

"We can prove that yes, the sleeping brain processes what we have learned before and this helps us remember the information," said Schonauer.

What Happens in Your Brain Doesn't Get Enough Sleep

When we sleep, the majority of our body performs various duties such as repairing cells and building antibodies.But the nervous system temporarily leaves the conscious state and becomes less reactive to its environment.According to Carl W.Bazil, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Center, the brain becomes very active when we sleep, performing essential tasks, and when people don't get enough sleep, they usually don't function at their best.Once a person becomes fully asleep, several electrical and chemical processes happen from point to point in the brain and the rest of the body.

1.When you sleep, your brain assesses the information learned throughout the day.The neurons rewire themselves, retain new information, create new connections, and break others.However, the brain requires a full night's sleep to be able to process all of the information.

2.Alertness and mental sharpness are determined by how much sleep you get in a day.And an accumulation of sleep deficits can affect how alert you are and how sharp your memory is.In a study published in 2003, a group of individuals who only slept for six hours in two weeks suffered from progressively worse attention skill.

3.There is a reason why a toddler whines and demands a nap.People with sleep deficits tend to be irritable and moody.In a 2007 study, brain imaging results showed that a person having adequate sleep during the night helps the brain regulate mood and cope better for the next day.A person suffering from chronic insomnia may be at risk of developing a mood disorder, anxiety or depression, and negative mood tendencies, such as being angry, sad, or mentally exhausted.

4.Sleep deficits can literally make the person sick.Aside from your brain, your entire body needs to rest to help repair cells and build the immune system.Various functions including growth hormone, cell regeneration, and muscle repair happen when we sleep.According to a study published in 2012, people deprived of an adequate amount of sleep did not make enough antibodies to fight infections.The study also found that these people were susceptible to the common cold and any vaccines taken were likely less effective.

Additional Information

- Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder.About half of adults experience occasional symptoms of insomnia.

- Symptoms of insomnia during daytime activities include overall lack of energy, excessive sleepiness during the day, trouble concentrating, mood changes, forgetfulness, and decreased performance in school or work.

- About 10 percent of the people in the world have experienced chronic insomnia.

- Elderly adults are most commonly affected by insomnia.It is because of the changes in the natural circadian rhythm, a rhythm that manages sleeping pattern.

- Several food and beverages, such as alcohol, coffee, and chocolates, can affect your sleeping pattern.

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