Monday, September 1, 2008

The Best Way to Boost Memory--Fast

If you want to remember where you put your keys, the details from yesterday's business meeting and the name of your new colleague, go to bed. A good night's sleep may be the best way to boost your memory, according to a study from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. The BBC News reports that researchers found sleep appears to have a dramatic impact on the way the brain functions the next day, strengthening connections between nerve cells in the brain in a way that is key to both learning and memory.

The study: A group of 32 volunteers were taught a new skill, such as following a moving dot on a computer screen using a joy stick or shown images they were asked to remember later. One group was allowed to sleep normally for eight hours, while the rest of the volunteers were either completely deprived of sleep or only permitted to take a nap. The next day, they were each asked to repeat the tasks or recall the images while researchers scanned their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

The results: Not surprisingly, the volunteers who slept eight hours performed far better with the learning and memory tasks, which was also reflected in their brain activity. "Our results revealed that a period of sleep following a new experience can consolidate and improve subsequent effects of learning from the experience," lead researcher Dr. Sophie Schwartz told the BBC. "This improvement comes from changes in brain activity in specific regions that code for relevant features of the learned material." She explained that sleep helps the brain consolidate learned experiences and strengthens weak memories that otherwise might fade in time.

"Sleep is not just a waste of time. It is a very active time, and we need it for things like memory and learning," Dr. Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who was not involved with the Swiss research, told the BBC. "During the day we acquire information, but at night we sort that information. People complain about sleep deprivation, but now with the 24/7 society and information overload we need our sleep more than ever." This University of Geneva study was presented to a Federation of European Neuroscience Societies conference.
source: Netscape.com


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