Forget pulling all-nighters: There's a more restive way to cram for tests. New research by neuroscientists at Northwestern University in Chicago shows people can actually learn while they're asleep. How?
The trick is coaxing your unconscious brain to speed-build a set of memories — whatever it is you need to memorize in a hurry — instead of slowly cementing the memories over the course of months, as it normally would.
In the new study, published online June 24th in the journal Nature Neuroscience, study participants were given diagrams that showed them how to play two simple piano melodies, each 12 notes long. They spent an equal amount of time practicing playing each tune, then took a 90-minute nap. While they slept, one of the melodies was quietly played on repeat for four minutes. As a result, upon awakening, the study participants could accurately play the cued melody 4% more often than the melody that was not played while they slept — a significant memory boost, considering it resulted from just four minutes of "sleep-learning."
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