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.
Concerned about memory loss? Take heart. Simple steps — from staying mentally active to including physical activity in your daily routine — may help sharpen your memory. Can’t find your car keys? Forget what’s on your grocery list? You’re not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is nothing to take lightly. Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing memory loss or dementia, memory tricks can be helpful. Consider four simple ways to sharpen your memory — and know when to seek help for memory loss. -Stay mentally active. Just as physical activity helps keep your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape — and perhaps keep memory loss at bay. Do crossword puzzles. Read a section of the newspaper that you normally skip. Take alternate routes when driving. Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer at a local school or community organization. -Socialize regularly. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Look for opportunities to get together with loved ones, friends and others — especially if you live alone. When you’re invited to share a meal or attend an event, go! -Get organized. You’re more likely to forget things if your home is cluttered and your notes are in disarray. Jot down tasks, appointments and other events in a special notebook, calendar or electronic planner. You might even repeat each entry out loud as you jot it down to help cement it in your memory. Keep to-do lists current, and check off items you’ve completed. Set aside a certain place for your wallet, keys and other essentials. -Focus. Limit distractions, and don’t try to do too many things at once. If you focus on the information that you’re trying to remember, you’ll be more likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect what you’re trying to remember to a favorite song or another familiar concept.
Study suggests that music might help people who have trouble remembering the past. You know those popular songs that you just can’t get out of your head? A new study suggests they have the power to trigger strong memories, many years later, in people with brain damage.
The small study suggests that songs instill themselves deeply into the mind and may help reach people who have trouble remembering the past.
It’s not clear whether the study results will lead to improved treatments for patients with brain damage. But they do offer new insight into how people process and remember music.
“This is the first study to show that music can bring to mind personal memories in people with severe brain injuries in the same way that it does in healthy people,” said study lead author Amee Baird, a clinical neuropsychologist. “This means that music may be useful to use as a memory aid for people who have difficulty remembering personal memories from their past after brain injury.” Video: Alzheimer’s Disease
It’s no secret that too little shut-eye can drain your brain, but scientists haven’t fully understood why.
Now, a new study suggests that a good night’s sleep leaves you feeling sharp and refreshed because a newly discovered system that scrubs away neural waste is mostly active when you’re at rest.
It’s a revelation that could not only transform scientists’ fundamental understanding of sleep, but also point to new ways to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, which are linked to the accumulation of toxins in the brain. One of the waste products of the brain is the protein amyloid-beta, which accumulates and forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis had previously shown that levels of amyloid-beta in mice brains dropped during sleep because of a decrease in production of the protein.