November 07, 2006
Electric Current Deepens Sleep And Improves Memory

A mild electric current ehanced memory formation by students while they slept.

Jan Born, a neuroscientist at the University of Lbeck in Germany who led the research, said the electrical current, applied via electrodes stuck to the scalp, seemed to enhance a part of the sleep cycle linked to consolidating word memory. Dr Born had 13 medical students learn a list of words and tested how many they remembered after a set time. He had them repeat the exercise after a nap.

The results, published today in Nature, show that without electrical current the volunteers remembered, on average, 37.42 words before sleep and 39.5 words when they woke. It confirmed research that sleep is important for consolidating learned information. After electrical stimulation the number of words volunteers remembered rose to 41.27 after sleep.

Born thinks that the current enhanced activity in the hippocampus which is keep to new memory formation.

The electrical stimulation was applied when the students went into a lighter phase of sleep and pushed them into a deeper state.

The students various sleep stages were monitored using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine. When the students entered a period of light sleep, Borns team started to apply a gentle current in one-second-long pulses, every second, for about 30 minutes. The EEG readings revealed that this current had put students into a deeper state of sleep.

The electric current was so small the students could not feel it.

What I'd like to do: turn down memory formation after borning days but turn up memory formation on nights after intense learning and complex problem solving.

Also, imagine taking naps throughout the day and evening when you are in an intense learning phase. The naps, enhanced by electric currents to accelerate memory formation, might allow you to learn more information per day by giving the hippocampus newly learned material to process several times a day.

Rejuvenated neural stem cells injected into the brain will probably help memory formation once cell manipulaton biotechnologies become advanced enough to produce such stem cells..

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 November 07 10:16 PM  Brain Enhancement

James Bowery said at November 8, 2006 12:25 AM:

As long ago as 1988 I mandated the use of sleep rooms by my programmers in the SAIC automated ordnance inspection project. If I caught a programmer acting bleary it was into the sleep room until he was alert. This was of course partially to keep people tack sharp while working on systems that could kill people if they malfunctioned but it was also due to my intuition that problem solving was more intense with sleep interspersed with intellectual work.

And yes even the hourly consultants were required to do this and they did get paid when sleeping on the job.

nuking said at December 1, 2009 12:57 AM:


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