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Sleep Disorders

09 November 2006

Electric pulse boosts memory

A popular theory suggests that sleep helps fix memories, and new research finds that passing a gentle electric current through the sleeping brain improves memory even more.

A popular theory suggests that sleep helps "fix" memories in the brain, and new research finds that passing a gentle electric current through the sleeping brain improves memory even more.

Helps drive memory replay
Intensifying slow-wave sleep enhances memory consolidation, Born said. Electric stimulation intensifies the brain's own slow oscillating activity, which drives the replay of recent memories. "This replay is the way memory is enhanced and retained," Born said.

May help treat Alzheimer's
It is possible that electric stimulation might enhance the memory of older patients or patients with Alzheimer's, Born said. "We can improve the function of slow-wave sleep and therefore memory," Born said. "It could also have an application in sleep disturbances, because this stimulation also improves sleep."

Memory, sleep linked questioned
Another expert isn't sure that memory and sleep are connected.


Sleep Centre
Brain, memory and cognition Centre

 

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Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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