Scientists have shown that sleep plays a crucial role in memory. As the brain goes down for the night – or even for a nap – what’s been experienced during the day is carefully sorted through and then filed away in permanent storage for easy access later.
Building on that discovery, German researchers have shown in an intriguing experiment that the improvements in memory that we get during our slumbers be boosted even further if we’re exposed to a very specific kind of sound when we’re in deep sleep.
The researchers suspected that little clicking sounds played in synchrony with our brain’s natural oscillations during deep sleep might pump up the oscillations, thereby improving sleep – and also memory.
“Imagine the sleeping brain as a swing which oscillates slowly back and forth,” says study co-author Jan Born, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Tubingen. “The auditory stimulation acts as a gentle nudge of the swing at its highest point [to enhance] the down swinging direction.”
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