Sleep revs up a person's ability to discern connections among pieces of information encountered in novel situations, a new investigation finds.
So-called relational memory, a key to flexible decision making, improves as time passes after exposure to new information. It gets an extra boost from sleep, say neuroscientist Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his colleagues.
Volunteers learned to pick certain items from each of five pairs of abstract patterns on a computer screen. Study participants who then waited 12 hours—but not others who waited only 20 minutes—could identify basic relationships among the items, regardless of whether they had slept during the delay. However, only participants who waited 12 or 24 hours and slept during that time showed insight into complex relationships among the pattern pairs, the researchers report in an upcomin