June 27, 2012
Sleep With Music To Remember Melodies

Those of you trying to learn complex classical music pieces should probably listen to the music while sleeping.

EVANSTON, Ill. Want to nail that tune that you've practiced and practiced? Maybe you should take a nap with the same melody playing during your sleep, new provocative Northwestern University research suggests.

The research grows out of exciting existing evidence that suggests that memories can be reactivated during sleep and storage of them can be strengthened in the process.

In the Northwestern study, research participants learned how to play two artificially generated musical tunes with well-timed key presses. Then while the participants took a 90-minute nap, the researchers presented one of the tunes that had been practiced, but not the other.

I doubt this technique would help if applied to listening to book tapes while you sleep. Though perhaps people with sleep apnea (who wake up often) could take in snippets of text every time they wake up.

But be careful about what you try to use sleep to remember. Sleep helps form memories of distressing images. So stay up too late after a really bad experience you don't want to remember in great detail?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 June 27 11:03 PM  Brain Memory

Kai Jones said at June 28, 2012 8:40 AM:

Maybe if you wake from a bad dream you should stay up to prevent forming the memory. Parents of small children, take note.

PacRim Jim said at June 28, 2012 12:23 PM:

Just as sleeping in a room full of LEDs and other nightlights detracts from the restfulness of REM sleep, so too does sleeping in a noisy room diminish it.
Sleep is not a vacuum to be filled with daytime activities. Sleep enables daytime activities.
BTW, the U.S. Defense Dept. is already funding research to selectively "erase" memories, to aid soldiers incapacitated by wartime experiences.

WJ said at June 28, 2012 6:14 PM:

I used to routinely go to bed with the music on. Even with calm classical music my sleep would generally be poorer for it. But if you want to experiment, I suggest doing so while you're on vacation and not obliged to be anywhere.

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