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Sleep On It

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Now that the school season's gearing up, here's some information any student can use: you may have the most success remembering what you've learned if you go to sleep afterwards.

In the research, scientists gave two lists of paired words (the words were paired randomly, and didn't sound alike) to 48 men and women and asked them to memorize the words. The participants were then put in four groups-one memorized the words in the evening and were tested in the morning; one memorized the words in the morning and were tested in the evening; one group memorized in the evening but also had to perform another task, and then they were tested in the morning; and one group memorized in the morning, was given another task, and was tested in the evening.

Those who were tested in the morning after memorizing the lists without performing another task had the highest score-94 percent. The people who didn't have to perform another task and took their test in the evening scored 82 percent.

The people who had an additional task and took their test in the evening, before sleeping, scored only 32 percent, but those who had an additional task but were able to sleep before taking their test scored 76 percent.

Clearly, it was the sleep that made the big difference between the scores of people who had to perform an additional task beyond memorizing the word pairs. The researchers stress that sleep is not simply a passive state, but rather a time when the memory process continues to be active.



Source:
Current Biology, 11 July 2006



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