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Sleep memory also occurs in birds - study

15-01-2010

New research into the role that sleep plays in forming memory has revealed that the process also occurs in bird species as well as humans, reports Science Daily. The results of a University of Chicago investigation could lead to further understanding of the role of sleep across other developmental areas including language and vocal learning, as well as clarifying its importance for memory building.

It is known that humans use sleep to consolidate memories, particularly of important experiences that happened during the day, but the process was not known to be replicated in other species. The UC study however found that the memories of starlings are created and maintained in largely the same way, opening up a new aspect to the research.

“We really wanted to behaviourally show that these types of sleep-dependent memory benefits are occurring in animals,” said Timothy Brawn, lead author of the study. “What was remarkable was that the pattern here looks very similar to what we see in humans. There wasn’t anything terribly different.”

“The result suggests sleep-dependent consolidation of learning is a very broad, general phenomenon that might be shared across a great many vertebrates,” said Daniel Margoliash, UC Professor of Organismal Biology, Psychology and Neuroscience. “It was quite important to show that and it now opens the possibility for mechanistic and behavioral experiments in animals that are difficult to do in humans.”

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