A Northwestern study said that external stimulation while one is asleep can help influence a complex skill. To do the study, the participants learned to play two artificially generated tunes with timed key presses after which they took a 90 minutes nap during which the researchers introduced one of the tunes that had been practiced.
The researchers used EEG methods to record the electrical activity of the brain to ensure that the musical cues were introduced when the participants were in slow-wave sleep. It was found that the participants made little mistakes in pressing the keys that had been introduced while they were asleep compared with the one that was not introduced. Lead author, James Antony of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Northwestern said that they also found that electrophysiological signals during sleep correlated with how much one could store memory. The study has opened doors for future researches non sleep-based memory processing for several types of habits, motor skills and behaviours. Paul J. Reber said that one may be able to retain memory of something learnt in the day by re-activating the information while he/she is sleeping at night to make it long-lasting.
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