It is not news anymore that your mind is awake, even when you are sleeping. According to earlier research, sleep helps you store your memories. But not only are you registering old information, you may actually be learning new information while your eyes are closed – according to a new study.
In a publication in the journal Nature Communications, the human brain is capable of forming fresh memories during sleep. While researchers played complicated sound patterns, participants were recording Zs. Later, it was found that the snoozers were able to recognize the noises again when they were awake.
20 participants were taken for the study, who were connected to machines that measured the brain’s electrical activity. This was done so that the study authors could monitor each volunteer’s phase of sleep (rapid eye movement, or REM, for example) throughout the night. The study volunteers were played white noise by the researchers before they fell asleep, which was scattered with pings and other sounds. The volunteers were asked to indicate when they heard distinct patterns in the noises.
After they dozed off, the researchers continued to play the same sound patterns often and also noted when the participants were in different phases of sleep.
The following morning, the researchers played the same white noise and the sound patterns for the participants for the last time. That’s when it was observed that each of the participants were better at identifying patterns that was played during REM sleep, which is the deepest phase of sleep. And what’s interesting was, the participants didn’t remember the patterns that were played during their lighter phases of their sleep. Hence, we can conclude that you not only learn while you sleep, but also can forget few things in certain stages of sleep.