Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Let Me Sleep On It: Creative Problem Solving Enhanced By REM Sleep

Date:
June 9, 2009
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Research led by a leading expert on the positive benefits of napping suggests that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving. The findings may have important implications for how sleep, specifically REM sleep, fosters the formation of associative networks in the brain.

Research led by a leading expert on the positive benefits of napping at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving. The findings may have important implications for how sleep, specifically REM sleep, fosters the formation of associative networks in the brain.

The study by Sara Mednick, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and first author Denise Cai, graduate student in the UC San Diego Department of Psychology, shows that REM directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleep or wake state. Their findings will be published in the June 8th online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We found that – for creative problems that you've already been working on – the passage of time is enough to find solutions," said Mednick. "However, for new problems, only REM sleep enhances creativity."

Mednick added that it appears REM sleep helps achieve such solutions by stimulating associative networks, allowing the brain to make new and useful associations between unrelated ideas. Importantly, the study showed that these improvements are not due to selective memory enhancements.

A critical issue in sleep and cognition is whether improvements in behavioral performance are the result of sleep-specific enhancement or simply reduction of interference – since experiences while awake have been shown to interfere with memory consolidation. The researchers controlled for such interference effects by comparing sleep periods to quiet rest periods without any verbal input.

While evidence for the role of sleep in creative problem-solving has been looked at by prior research, underlying mechanisms such as different stages of sleep had not been explored. Using a creativity task called a Remote Associates Test (RAT), study participants were shown multiple groups of three words (for example: cookie, heart, sixteen) and asked to find a fourth word that can be associated to all three words (sweet, in this instance). Participants were tested in the morning, and again in the afternoon, after either a nap with REM sleep, one without REM or a quiet rest period. The researchers manipulated various conditions of prior exposure to elements of the creative problem, and controlled for memory.

"Participants grouped by REM sleep, non-REM sleep and quiet rest were indistinguishable on measures of memory," said Cai. "Although the quiet rest and non-REM sleep groups received the same prior exposure to the task, they displayed no improvement on the RAT test. Strikingly, however, the REM sleep group improved by almost 40 percent over their morning performances."

The authors hypothesize that the formation of associative networks from previously unassociated information in the brain, leading to creative problem-solving, is facilitated by changes to neurotransmitter systems during REM sleep.

Additional contributors to the study include Sarnoff A. Mednick, University of Southern California, Department of Psychology; Elizabeth M. Harrison, UCSD Department of Psychology; and Jennifer Kanady, UCSD Department of Psychiatry and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, Research Service. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Let Me Sleep On It: Creative Problem Solving Enhanced By REM Sleep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608182421.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2009, June 9). Let Me Sleep On It: Creative Problem Solving Enhanced By REM Sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608182421.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Let Me Sleep On It: Creative Problem Solving Enhanced By REM Sleep." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608182421.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins