Dream a little dream of recall

Nap-time reveries may show that sleeping brain is making memories

2:03pm, April 22, 2010

People who have nap-time dreams about a task that they’ve just practiced get a big memory boost on the task upon awakening, Harvard researchers report.

Those who dream about anything else have no such enhanced recall, the team reports in a paper published online April 22 in Current Biology. Neither do those who stay awake, even if they think about the task.

“I was startled by this finding,” says study coauthor Robert Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School. “Task-related dreams may get triggered by the sleeping brain’s attempt to consolidate challenging new information and to figure out how to use it.”

His new findings elaborate on research suggesting that sleep generally enhances memory and learning (SN: 4/28/07, p. 260).

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from Science News