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Memory boosted by rest - study

03-02-2010

The brain forms and strengthens memories during periods of rest as well as sleep, according to the results of new US study published this week. The New York University research, lead by Dr. Lila Davachi, looked at the memory recall performance of volunteers during rest breaks following tasks involving images. The results of study showed that activity between the hippocampal and cortical areas of the brain was increased when participants rested directly after particular image tasks, indicating that memory was being formed.

“Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned,” said Dr. Davachi. “Your brain wants you to tune out other tasks so you can tune in to what you just learned.”

Previous studies have concentrated on the role that sleep plays in developing memory, so the investigation into memory forming while awake reveals a previously unknown function of the brain.

“Your brain is working for you when you’re resting, so rest is important for memory and cognitive function,” added Dr. Davachi. “This is something we don’t appreciate much, especially when today’s information technologies keep us working round-the-clock.”

The results of the study were published in the journal Neuron.

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