Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Boosting new memories with wakeful resting

Date:
July 23, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Too often our memory starts acting like a particularly porous sieve: All the important fragments that should be caught and preserved somehow just disappear. So armed with pencils and bolstered by caffeine, legions of adults, especially older adults, tackle crossword puzzles, acrostics, Sudoku and a host of other activities designed to strengthen their flagging memory muscles.

Too often our memory starts acting like a particularly porous sieve: all the important fragments that should be caught and preserved somehow just disappear. So armed with pencils and bolstered by caffeine, legions of adults, especially older adults, tackle crossword puzzles, acrostics, Sudoku and a host of other activities designed to strengthen their flagging memory muscles.

But maybe all they really need to do to cement new learning is to sit and close their eyes for a few minutes. In an article to be published in the journal Psychological Science, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientist Michaela Dewar and her colleagues show that memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new -- so keep the pencil for phone numbers- and that memory lasts not just immediately but over a longer term.

"Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds," says Dewar. "Indeed our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week."

In two separate experiments, a total of thirty-three normally aging adults between the ages of 61 and 87 were told two short stories and told to remember as many details as possible. Immediately afterward, they were asked to describe what happened in the story. Then they were given a 10-minute delay that consisted either of wakeful resting or playing a spot-the-difference game on the computer.

During the wakeful resting portion, participants were asked to just rest quietly with their eyes closed in a darkened room for 10 minutes while the experimenter left to "prepare for the next test." Participants could daydream or think about the story, or go through their grocery lists. It didn't matter what happened while their eyes were closed, only that they were undistracted by anything else and not receiving any new information.

When participants played the spot-the-difference game, they were presented with picture pairs on a screen for 30 seconds each and were instructed to locate two subtle differences in each pair and point to them. The task was chosen because it required attention but, unlike the story, it was nonverbal.

In one study, the participants were asked to recall both stories half an hour later and then a full week later. Participants remembered much more story material when the story presentation had been followed by a period of wakeful resting.

Dewar explains that there is growing evidence to suggest that the point at which we experience new information is "just at a very early stage of memory formation and that further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time."

We now live in a world where we are bombarded by new information and it crowds out recently acquired information. The process of consolidating memories takes a little time and the most important things that it needs are peace and quiet.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michaela Dewar et al. Brief wakeful resting boosts new memories over the long term. Psychological Science, 2012

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Boosting new memories with wakeful resting." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723171855.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, July 23). Boosting new memories with wakeful resting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723171855.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Boosting new memories with wakeful resting." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120723171855.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. 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