Sleep learning is possible: Associations formed when asleep remained intact when awake
Is sleep learning possible? A new Weizmann Institute study appearing August 26 in Nature Neuroscience has found that if certain odors are presented after tones during sleep, people will start sniffing when they hear the tones alone -- even when no odor is present -- both during sleep and, later, when awake. In other words, people can learn new information while they sleep, and this can unconsciously modify their waking behavior. Sleep-learning experiments are notoriously difficult to conduct. For one thing, one must be sure that the subjects are actually asleep and stay that way during the "lessons." The most rigorous trials of verbal sleep learning have failed to show any new knowledge taking root. Prof. In the experiments, the subjects slept in a special lab while their sleep state was continuously monitored. The next day, the now awake subjects again heard the tones alone -- with no accompanying odor.
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