American scientists have found that listening to the same classical music during learning and subsequent night of sleep can help to learn the material. They asked 50 students to take online lectures on microeconomics to the music, and then a phase of slow sleep, included his or her own, or — white noise. Active participants from the experimental group remembered more information and passed the test better, and predicted the success of the activity of the frontal lobes in the theta range during sleep. Article published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.
Lack of sleep in his student years (instead of eight to ten hours, teenagers and young adults actually sleep much less) not only leads to deterioration of health, but also to the disruption of cognitive functions. In particular, it relates to memory: it consolidation (that is, the transition of memories from short term memory to long term) activity occurs in the phase of slow sleep. As a consequence, the lack of sleep can lead to failures in study, so scientists are actively looking for ways to avoid it: for example, last year it became clear that to improve the cognitive abilities of 6.5 hours of sleep a day is enough, if you divide them by night sleep and a short quiet time during the day (however, there is the disadvantage that the increase of glucose level in the blood).
Another way to strengthen memory consolidation during sleep with the help reactivate those memories that must be preserved. Michael Scullin (Michael Scullin) from Baylor University and his colleagues decided to use music in this way. Their study involved 50 students: they needed to take the online lecture on microeconomics. During the lecture, they background included excerpts from three classical pieces: “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi and “Nocturne in e-flat major (opus 9, number 2)” Frederic Chopin.
The night after that, all the participants conducted in the laboratory: the activity of their brains was analyzed using EEG. A phase of NREM sleep, the participants re-lost those musical pieces that they heard during a lecture and the control group (participants divided in half) consisted of white noise.
On the morning after the experiment, participants were given a test on the material covered the day before: in the experimental group scores were 18 percent higher than in the control group. However, nine months after the experiment of evaluation in the two groups did not differ, which suggests that internalized the information still has a short-term basis. At the same time as how well participants remembered the information, and whether they could after nine months something to remember, was predicted by increased activity of the frontal lobes in the theta range (4-8 Hz) — this activity just associated with memory work in General and consolidation in particular.
Overall, the authors come to the conclusion that the use of music to improve memory during sleep in the short term pretty effectively. However, they specify that any music would not come: she, first, must be familiar (as those works that were used in the study), and secondly, without a word, and more structured. Jazz, rock and pop music, therefore, is not suitable: it can either Wake the person, or to prevent him to learn the material.
Another way to improve memory during sleep (as well as lengthen slow-wave sleep) is lulling. And they help, as found out last year Swiss scientists, even adults (and even — mice).