Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The importance of sleep in the learning process

We've already posted a couple times about how important it is for children to get enough sleep.

PhysOrg.com reports on a study out of Belgium that found:

"As time passes, our memories are transferred to different parts of the brain in order to ideally store our past experiences. While scientists have known that sleep plays an important role in helping consolidate memories, a new study investigates the role of sleep a step further, and shows how one night of sleep can lead to changes in brain activity six months after an event has occurred."

The study found:

"Two days after the initial learning, the subjects were again tested. Not only did the sleep-deprived forget a significantly greater number of word pairs..."

The surprising thing for the researchers was that when the subjects were tested six months later those who had a good nights sleep had different brain activity:

"This time, subjects in the sleeping group had greater brain activity in the left ventral medial prefrontal cortex (but not the hippocampus) compared with the sleep-deprived, who had a more active hippocampus. "

We do a pretty good job of making sure our daughters get enough sleep. But both Janine and I tend to try and cram the evenings with chores, blogging and reading. This study gives another reason for getting enough sleep.

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