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  • Translator: Ivana Korom, Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

  • Who wouldn't love acing a geography exam,

  • remembering all the locations of the countries on a map

  • or avoiding embarrassing situations of suddenly forgetting the person's name

  • standing right in front of you.

  • It turns out that memory, like other muscles in the body,

  • can be strengthened and enhanced.

  • But instead of practicing with flash cards,

  • there may be an interesting way

  • that we can hack our memory while we sleep.

  • (Music)

  • Why do we sleep?

  • This has been a question asked since the early days of civilization.

  • And while we may not know the exact answer,

  • there are a number of really good theories about why we need it.

  • Sleep is when the brain transfers short-term memories

  • experienced throughout the day

  • into long-term memories.

  • This process is called memory consolidation,

  • and it's the memory consolidation theory that has scientists wondering

  • if we can enhance certain memories over others.

  • There was a paper recently in the journal "Science"

  • by Ken Paller and his colleagues at Northwestern

  • that seemed to show that this may be true,

  • and that piqued our curiosity.

  • Joud has been working on a DIY version of this task

  • to see if we can improve memories through the use of sound in sleep.

  • So Joud, how do you test if we can improve our memories with sleep?

  • We need a human subject.

  • [Step 1: Play a game]

  • We have a memory game that we have on an iPad,

  • and then we make our subject play this game

  • and remember the images and where they appear on the screen.

  • So this is like a memory game you can play when you're a child.

  • which picture was where.

  • And we tie each picture with a sound that represents it.

  • So, if you can see a picture of a car, for example,

  • and you would hear the car engine.

  • (Car engine starting)

  • Just before you go to sleep we're going to test you.

  • We're going to see how well you remember where the pictures are.

  • Every time you see the picture, you're going to hear the sound.

  • And now comes the experiment.

  • You're going to go take a nap.

  • [Step 2: Take a nap]

  • And while you're sleeping, we're going to be recording your EEG.

  • And then we wait for them to go into what's called the slow-wave sleep,

  • which is the deepest phase of your sleep where it's really hard for you to wake up.

  • OK, pause.

  • So, here's some information on sleep.

  • There are four stages: we have lighter stages of sleep and REM,

  • but what we're interested in is called slow-wave sleep.

  • And it gets its name from the electrical signals

  • called Delta waves that we record from the brain.

  • Now, this is the part of sleep where scientists believe

  • that memory consolidation can happen.

  • In this deep period of sleep,

  • we're going to do something that you don't know we're going to do.

  • Here's where the tricky part comes, and we start playing our cues. (Cricket sound)

  • (Car engine starting)

  • Do you play all the cues?

  • No. We only want to play half of them to see if there's a difference.

  • So your hypothesis is

  • the one that they were listening to while they're sleeping

  • they're going to do better at when they wake up.

  • Yes, exactly.

  • When you wake back up and play the game again,

  • do you do better or worse than before a nap?

  • What we found is that if we played you a cue during your sleep,

  • for example, a car.

  • You would remember the position of that car

  • when you woke back up again.

  • But if we didn't play you the cue during the sleep,

  • for example, a guitar.

  • you'd be less likely to remember that guitar when you woke up.

  • The memories that were cued they remembered better

  • than the ones they weren't,

  • even though when they woke up, they don't remember hearing those sounds?

  • Yes exactly. We ask them.

  • We know they're sleeping, they can't hear it, they wake up,

  • they do better on those than the ones you didn't play.

  • - That's amazing. - It's like magic.

  • Joud ran this experiment on 12 people and the results were significant.

  • It's not that you remember things better; it's that you forget them less.

  • I was a huge skeptic when I first heard that you could do better at a memory test

  • just by playing sounds during sleep.

  • But we have replicated these experiment for ourselves

  • The facts and memories we collect throughout the day are very fragile,

  • and they are easily lost and forgotten.

  • But by reactivating them during sleep, even without us being aware,

  • it seems like we could make them more stable and less prone to forgetting.

  • That's pretty incredible.

  • Our brains are still active even when we're not.

  • So if you're like me and a bit forgetful,

  • perhaps a solution is a pair of headphones and a soft couch.

Translator: Ivana Korom, Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

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A2 US TED sleep memory play consolidation nap

【TED】Greg Gage: How sound can hack your memory while you sleep (How sound can hack your memory while you sleep | DIY Neuroscience, a TED series)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/09/15
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