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Sleep And Memory: Good Night's Rest Helps Us Remember Things During The Day

First Posted: Jul 27, 2015 02:09 PM EDT
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New findings published in the journal Cortex reveal that adequate rest may help the body recall facts that they could not remember later.

"Sleep almost doubles our changes of remembering previously unrivaled material. The post-sleep boost in memory accessibility may indicate that some memories are sharpened overnight," researcher Nicolas Dumay of the University of Exeter said in a statement. "This supports the notion that, while asleep, we actively rehearse information flagged as important. More research is needed into the functional significance of this rehearsal and whether, for instance, it allows memories to be accessible in a wider range of contexts, hence making them more useful."

The study involved two situations in which subjects forget which information over the course of 12 hours of wakefulness, a night's sleep was shown to promote success to memory traces that had initially been too weak to be retrieved.

During the study, researchers tracked memories for novel, made-up words learnt either prior to a night's sleep or an equivalent period of wakefulness, asking them to recall words immediately after exposure and then again after the period of sleep or wakefulness.

Findings revealed that when compared to daytime wakefulness, sleep helped rescue unrivaled memories more when it prevented memory loss.

Furthermore, researchers believe that the memory boost may come from the hippocampus, an inner structure of the temporal lobe that "unzips recently encoded episodes and replays them to regions of the brain originally involved in the capture," leading people to effectively re-experience major events of the day.

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