Home » Sleep Is Vital to Remember People’s Faces and Names Shows Recent Study

Sleep Is Vital to Remember People’s Faces and Names Shows Recent Study

by Editor CTS
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

According to recently published study by Northwestern University, when people’s memories of freshly taught face-name connections were reactivated while they were sleeping, researchers discovered that their name recall improved dramatically. Uninterrupted deep sleep was crucial to this progress.

Nathan Whitmore, a PhD candidate in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program at Northwestern said, “It’s a new and exciting finding about sleep, because it tells us that the way information is reactivated during sleep to improve memory storage is linked with high-quality sleep.”
Memory reactivation did not benefit and may even be harmful to study participants with EEG data (a recording of electrical activity in the brain picked up by electrodes on the scalp) that indicated interrupted sleep. The reactivation resulted in a relative improvement of a little over 1.5 more names recalled in those who slept uninterrupted throughout the specific periods of sound presentations.
The experiment involved 24 people aged 18 to 31 who were instructed to memorise the faces and names of 40 students from a hypothetical Latin American history class and another 40 students from a hypothetical Japanese history class. They were asked to produce the name that went with each face when it was displayed again. 
Participants took a nap after the learning exercise while the researchers used EEG readings to carefully examine brain activity. Some of the names were gently played on a speaker with music connected with one of the classes when participants reached the “deep sleep” level.
The three main stages of the experiment. Testing showed superior memory due to memory reactivation during sleep, but only when sleep was undisturbed by sound presentations. CREDIT: NATHAN WHITMORE, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY.
When the participants woke, they were retested on their ability to recognize the faces and recall the names associated with each one. The findings on the link between sleep disruption and memory accuracy are interesting, according to the researchers, for numerous reasons.
“We already know that some sleep disorders like apnea can impair memory. Our research suggests a potential explanation for this — frequent sleep interruptions at night might be degrading memory,” said Whitmore.
The paper, “Targeted memory reactivation of face-name learning depends on ample and undisturbed slow-wave sleep,” was published Nature partner journal “NPJ: Science of Learning.” The paper’s senior author is Ken Paller, professor of psychology and director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Program at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.
In order to understand more about the underlying brain mechanisms, the group is currently doing a follow-up study to revive memories and intentionally interrupt sleep. This new line of study will enable us to address a number of intriguing concerns, such as whether sleep disturbance is always bad or if it may be used to diminish unwanted memories.

Contributed by: Mithun Sukesan

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