Brain Activity During Sleep Linked to Improved Memory
A new study has made a revealing discovery. It seems that certain parts of the brain interact with one another to improve both your memory and recollection during sleep. This is the first time that scientists have ever found definitive proof of the connection between sleep and improved memory.
Improved Memory and the Hippocampus/Cortex Connection
The recent study was performed by the scientists at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology. Previous studies have been done, and theories have been put forth, about the how the brain works to preserve memory. Scientists believed that improved memory is formed in the hippocampus, and then moved to the cortex for long-term storage. However, until this new study, researchers have never proven their hypothesis.
The scientists at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology set out to prove these theories about how the brain operates. Their first step was to record the activity of both the hippocampus and cortex during sleep. They observed that when the hippocampus emitted sharp wave-ripples, the cortex reacted with delta waves and spindles.
However, the researchers needed further proof. The next step involved training rats to memorize identical objects and their positions. They moved one of the objects the next day to test whether the rats could conclude which one. The rats that had spent 20 minutes in the room on the first day passed the test, while those that had been there for only three minutes failed. Similar results were reflected in the interaction between the hippocampus and the cortex during sleep after the first day of testing.
The researchers’ next test involved using a system to monitor and trigger the interactions between the two sections of the brain. Using the rats who failed the test before, the system provided significant results. Not only did the rats pass the test, but the scientists were able to prove that the process that happens between the hippocampus and cortex during sleep leads to an improved memory.
This research has the potential to unravel the mysteries and hopefully help people with certain memory disorders. While the system the scientists used has yet to be tested on humans due to ethical concerns, they hope further research will clear up all the facts about the relationship between the hippocampus and cortex.