Many of us consider that if we are sleeping, we are wasting our time. But it is confirmed that we can learn while sleeping, like Osho said, ”For learning, waking up is not a precondition. Learning can happen even while asleep.”
Brain cells active states responsible for sleep learning
The research focused upon finding the semantic associations between the foreign words and their played translation while sleeping and in wakefulness. While sleeping, our brain is active which is termed as “up-state,” and it passes into inactive state “down-state.”The two states alternate about every half-second.
Playing of an artificial language with their German translations while sleeping paved a faded memory path in the brain. Words pairs like “Tofer=key” and “guga=elephant” were encoded and played for 3-4 times and if it played for 2 or 3 times in up-states of the cell, then after waking up person was able to relate words like “guga” is related to large and “tofer” is related to small.
“It was interesting that language areas of the brain and the hippocampus — the brain’s essential memory hub — were activated during the wake retrieval of sleep-learned vocabulary because these brain structures normally mediate wake learning of new vocabulary,” says Marc Züst, co-first-author of this paper.
“These brain structures appear to mediate memory formation independently of the prevailing state of consciousness — unconscious during deep sleep, conscious during wakefulness.”
Memory formation doesn’t require consciousness
When we are sleeping, our periphery of the brain is sleeping, but our deep brain is active. Our conscious brain is sleeping, but our unconscious is awake. Learning is possible due to our unconscious brain is very receptive while sleeping.
“We could disprove that sophisticated learning is impossible during deep sleep,” says Simon Ruch, co-first-author.
This study shows the relationship between consciousness and learning.
“In how far and with what consequences deep sleep can be utilized for the acquisition of new information will be a topic of research in upcoming years,” says Katharina Henke.
These research groups aim to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in sleep, consciousness, and cognition.