To Dream, perhaps to Learn?

A Harvard study suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, improving memory and boosting performance. The subjects were 99 healthy college students who agreed to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and drugs for at least 24 hours prior to the experiment. All the volunteers demonstrated normal sleep patterns before enrolling in the study.
Each of the subjects spent an hour learning how to navigate through a complex three-dimensional maze-like puzzle. After the training period, half of the students were allowed to nap for 90 minutes, while the others read or relaxed. Following a lunch break, all the volunteers tackled the virtual maze again. The only students whose performance substantially improved were the few who dreamed about the maze during their naps. Although the dreams didn’t actually depict solutions to the puzzle, the researchers believe they show how the dreaming brain can reorganize and consolidate memories, resulting in better performance on learned tasks. And all the amazing dreams occurred early in NREM sleep.






What Foods are Best for Enhancing Memory?

It’s too simple to single out our particular food (or foods) as being “best” for memory. Memory is too complicated a process, and it requires a greater variety of nutrients than any single food can provide.
Since remembering involves a good bit of brain activity, and brain activity puts special emphasis on a healthy nervous system and healthy blood flow, all steps you can take to improve your blood flow, circulation, and nervous system function may end up contributing to better memory.
A first important step would be upgrading the overall fat quality in your meal plan. You’ll want to focus on plant foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, cold water fish like salmon, and oils like extra virgin olive oil, because the types of fat contained in these foods help keep your blood vessels and nerve wrappings healthy. (Among these fats is a group called omega-3 fat. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of certain omega-3 fatty acids&mdashespecially the fatty acid called DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid—in brain and nervous system function). What you are not going to want are hydrogenated oils that contain trans fatty acids, fried foods, large amounts of beef fat, pork fat, or chicken fat, or other high-fat, processed foods.
You’re also going to want plenty of antioxidant nutrients like vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, colorful plant flavonoid and carotenoid pigments, and minerals like zinc and manganese. Vegetables and fruits that are richly colored are usually your best bet here. We do not know where you live and therefore which fruits and vegetables you have available so we would just say that it would be good to look for ones that are deep in color … such as deep green (like leafy greens such as mustard greens, kale, broccoli, etc.), deep orange (papaya, sweet potato, winter squash, etc.), dark blue (berries, eggplant, purple cabbage, etc.) and deep red (berries, cherries, tomatoes, peppers, etc).