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Learn While You Sleep

July 11, 2014


Learn While You Sleep

Learning while you sleep might sound like some excuse that kids use when they are caught sleeping in class, but recent research by a team of Swiss psychologists have found that listening to other languages while you are asleep can help you to consolidate what you have learned.

For the first time researchers have investigated whether verbal cueing during sleep can help you to improve your acquisition of a foreign language. In the experiment the researchers asked sixty German speaking students were also to study a list of Dutch words late at night. Half of them then went to sleep while the other half stayed awake longer. Both groups were then played the words again. At two in the morning, the sleeping group was woken and and both groups were then tested on the words again. The researchers found that the students that had been asleep were able to recall the German/Dutch translations better than those who had stayed awake.

While it might be tempting to think that sleep deprivation may have played a role in the poorer results that the students that stayed awake achieved, the scientists monitored the EEG readings of the students that were asleep and found that there was a correlation between when the words where heard while asleep and brainwaves spikes in specific parts of the brain associated with learning.

While this doesn't mean that it is possible to learn a new language while you are asleep, it does reinforce the idea that sleeping aids memory building and emphasises how important it is for children and teenagers to sleep in order to learn better. They just need to sleep at night and not in class.

photo credit: indi.ca via photopin cc


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