Consolidating memories

04-Jan-2015 18:45

The new study focuses on the hippocampus and how different components of sleep—such as “sleep spindles” and slow-wave sleep (SWS)—play an important role in memory consolidation.

The researchers found that a power nap lasting 45 to 60 minutes produces a five-fold improvement of information retrieval from memory.

Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep. and then I read a blog post, “Nightly 8-Hour Sleep Isn't a Rule. In his blog post, Williams traces the evolution of human sleep patterns.

A concentrated period of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep seems to be the winning formula for consolidating memories. He describes that we've evolved with two different types of sleep patterns: "monophasic" sleep, which consists of around eight hours of continuous nightly rest, and “polyphasic” sleep, which consists of sleeping in multiple short blocks throughout the day.

In modern consolidation theory, it is assumed that new memories are initially 'labile' and sensitive to disruption before undergoing a series of processes (e.g., glutamate release, protein synthesis, neural growth and rearrangement) that render the memory representations progressively more stable.

It is these processes that are generally referred to as “consolidation”.

If the cell was stimulated four times over the course of an hour, however, the synapse would actually split and new synapses would form, producing a (presumably) permanent change.

The hypothesis that new memories consolidate slowly over time was proposed 100 years ago, and continues to guide memory research.

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The hippocampus (Greek for "sea monster") was given its name because it's shaped like a seahorse.Recently, however, the idea has been gaining support that stable representations can revert to a labile state on reactivation. We already have ample evidence that retrieval is a dynamic process during which new information merges with and modifies the existing representation — memory is now seen as reconstructive, rather than a simple replaying of stored information Researchers who have found evidence that supposedly stable representations have become labile again after reactivation, have called the process “reconsolidation”, and suggest that consolidation, rather than being a one-time event, occurs repeatedly every time the representation is activated.