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The findings provide new insight into the process of memory consolidation during sleep. They may also suggest new ways to help people remember things better, according to the researchers.
"While it has been shown previously that targeted memory reactivation can boost memory consolidation during sleep, we now show that sleep spindles might represent the key underlying mechanism," says Bernhard Staresina of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. "Thus, direct induction of sleep spindles -- for example, via transcranial electrical stimulation -- perhaps combined with targeted memory reactivation, may enable us to further improve memory performance while we sleep."
Spindles - Bursts - Brain - Activity - Hertz
Sleep spindles are half-second to two-second bursts of brain activity, measured in the 10-16 Hertz range on an EEG. They occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep stages two and three. Earlier studies had shown that the number of spindles during the night could predict a person's memory the next day. Studies in animals also linked sleep spindles to the process by which the brain makes new connections. But many questions about the link between sleep spindles and reactivated memories during sleep remained.
Staresina along with Scott Cairney at the University of York, UK, suspected that experimental...
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