A concentrated period of learning followed by a short nap can help enhance information recall, according to a study.
The researchers were particularly focused on the role of the hippocampus – a region of the brain in which memories are ‘consolidated’ – the process by which previously learned information is transferred into long-term memory storage. ‘We examined a particular type of brain activity, known as “sleep spindles”, that plays an important role in memory consolidation during sleep,’ explains Sara Studte. A sleep spindle is a short burst of rapid oscillations in the electroencephalogram (EEG). ‘We suspect that certain types of memory content, particularly information that was previously tagged, is preferentially consolidated during this type of brain activity,’ says Mecklinger. Newly learned information is effectively given a label, making it easier to recall that information at some later time. In short, a person’s memory of something is stronger, the greater the number of sleep spindles appearing in the EEG.