Good night's sleep strengthens memory

Brain activity during sleep retains important information in memory pockets

Ians February 22, 2016
Sleep replay strengthens the microscopic connections between nerve cells that are active. PHOTO: SIASAT

LONDON: Ensure proper sleep if you want to boost your memory, as brain activity during sleep sorts through several experiences we encounter every day and retains only important information in memory pockets, say researchers.

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The findings showed that patterns of brain activity that occur during the day are replayed at fast-forward speed during sleep.

The key result is that sleep replay strengthens the microscopic connections between nerve cells that are active -- a process deemed critical for consolidating memories.

“These findings are about the fundamental processes that occur in the brain during the consolidation of memory during sleep,” said lead researcher Jack Mellor from University of Bristol in a paper published in the journal Cell Reports.

The new discoveries provide further evidence for the benefits of a good night's sleep.

Good sleep is important because the bad night sleep often experienced by both the healthy population and people with schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease lead to impaired mental function.

“It also seems that the successful replay of brain activity during sleep is dependent on the emotional state of the person when they are learning. This has major implications for how we teach and enable people to learn effectively,” Mellor said.

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The replayed activity happens in part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is our central filing system for memories.


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