Hilary Hurd Anyaso
Fri, 12 Apr 2013 16:53 CDT
Memory rehearsal during sleep can make a big difference in remembering later.
Why do some memories last a lifetime while others disappear quickly?
A new study suggests that memories rehearsed, during either sleep or waking, can have an impact on memory consolidation and on what is remembered later.
The new Northwestern University study shows that when the information that makes up a memory has a high value (associated with, for example, making more money
), the memory is more likely to be rehearsed and consolidated during sleep and, thus, be remembered later.
Also, through the use of a direct manipulation of sleep, the research demonstrated a way to encourage the reactivation of low-value memories so they too were remembered later.
Delphine Oudiette, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of psychology at Northwestern and lead author of the study, designed the experiment to study how participants remembered locations of objects on a computer screen. A value assigned to each object informed participants how much money they could make if they remembered it later on the test.
"The pay-off was much higher for some of the objects than for others," explained Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern and co-author of the study. "In other words, we manipulated the value of the memories -- some were valuable memories and others not so much, just as the things we experience each day vary in the extent to which we'd like to be able to remember them later."