OC HIGH: STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Sleep on It
All-night cram sessions may not be such a good idea after all. Researchers report that deep slumber plays an important role in learning, and, without it, hard-earned knowledge can disappear.
In a study published in the journal Science, scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, report that test subjects allowed to get a solid night’s sleep had an improved memory of a task taught to them the day before.
In the study, six test subjects were taught a simple repetitive task during an eight-hour training session. They were allowed to sleep and then retested. The researchers found that after sleep, the test subjects performed better than they had at the end of the training session. This suggested that some process occurred during sleep that strengthened the learning.
In another study, researchers at the University of Arizona showed that cells in the brains of rats that were stimulated during a learning process were also stimulated during sleep.
The finding is consistent, the researchers said, with the belief that knowledge gained while awake is somehow reinforced, or consolidated, during sleep.