Tuesday, January 29, 2008

*An Afternoon Nap Improves Your Memory say Israeli Researchers*

This is nice news:

According to researchers at the University of Haifa, a 90-minute siesta
helps speed up the process of long-term memory consolidation.

In a recent study, Prof. Avi Karni and Dr. Maria Korman of the Center
for Brain and Behavior Research at the University of Haifa found that
an afternoon nap changes the course of consolidation in the brain. "We
still don't know the exact mechanism of the memory process that occurs
during sleep, but the results of this research suggest the possibility
that it is possible to speed up memory consolidation, and in the
future, we may be able to do it artificially," said Karni.

Long-term memory is defined as a permanent memory that does not
disappear, or that disappears after many years. Long-term memory is
divided into two types---memories of "what" (for example: what happened
yesterday or what one remembers from an article one read yesterday) and
memories of "how to" (for example: how to read Hebrew, how to drive,
play basketball or play the piano).

In the study, published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience,
the researchers worked with two groups of participants. Group members
practiced a repeated motor activity which consisted of bringing the
thumb and a finger together in a specific sequence. The research
examined the "how" aspect of memory in the participants' ability to
perform the task quickly and in the correct sequence.

One of the groups was allowed to nap for an hour and a half after
learning the task while the other group stayed awake. The researchers,
who worked in cooperation with the Sleep Laboratory at the Sheba
Medical Center and researchers from the Department of Psychology at the
University of Montreal, found that the group that slept in the
afternoon showed a distinct improvement in their task performance by that
evening, as opposed to the group that stayed awake, which didn't exhibit any

Following an entire night's sleep, both groups exhibited the same skill

There's more to this story, but according to the ISRAELI21c sources "if
you need to memorize something quickly or you've got lots of different
activities to learn how to do at one go, better find some time for an
afternoon snooze."

(By Staff, www.Israel21c.org, January 8, 2008)