Your Brain is Actively Remembering Things While You Sleep

The most recent research on memories and sleep indicate that while you slumber your brain is categorizing what it’s learned recently.  New research, however, goes one step further.

UCLA researchers have, for the first time, measured the the sleep-time activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease. They discovered that this part of the brain behaves as if it’s remembering something, even under anesthesia, a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

The research team simultaneously measured the activity of single neurons from multiple parts of the brain involved in memory formation. The technique allowed them to determine which brain region was activating other areas of the brain and how that activation was spreading.  What surprised them was that this “remembering” activity persistent while the subject was asleep.

Researchers say their work is important because humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping. and a lack of sleep results in adverse effects on health, including learning and memory problems.

The study appears in the early online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience.