MAY 06, 2020 9:30 AM PDT

The Brain Replays Waking Experiences While You Sleep

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers have found that while we sleep, our brains are busy processing our waking experiences. A process called ‘offline replay’, they say that the process may help people organize their experiences and solidify new memories.

For the study, the researchers recruited two participants with tetraplegia, a condition in which people are unable to move the upper and lower parts of their body voluntarily. As they had already been involved in another clinical trial, both patients already had small sensors known as microelectrode arrays implanted in their cerebral cortexes. 

During the research, the scientists asked the participants to take a nap before and after playing a sequence-copying game that lit up four panels in various sequences for the player to repeat. As the participants had no control over their upper bodies, they used their minds to move the cursor. The researchers recorded their brain activity as they napped, played the game and napped again. 

In the end, they found that both participants fired neurons in similar ways while playing the game and during their naps afterwards. They say that this indicates that the participants' brains continued to play the game at the neuronal level as they slept. 

"We were certainly surprised to see replay in the human brain, even though it's what we were expecting given the animal literature," says Besta Jarosiewicz, one of the study’s authors. "To make sure what we were seeing was real, we did a series of sanity checks, or controls, to make sure the result wasn't an artifact of something trivial we were overlooking."

Confirming their findings with controls, the researchers concluded that offline reply likely solidifies memories by gradually incorporating them in the neocortex- the part of the brain responsible for processing sensory information and making decisions. 


Sources: Medical Xpress, Inverse, Cell

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
OCT 30, 2021
Health & Medicine
Human Brains React Fastest to the Smell of Danger
OCT 30, 2021
Human Brains React Fastest to the Smell of Danger
The ability to detect odors is important to most organisms' survival; they have to be able to find food or mates, fo ...
NOV 02, 2021
Technology
Mini Sensors Help Detect Neuromotor Abnormalities in Infants
NOV 02, 2021
Mini Sensors Help Detect Neuromotor Abnormalities in Infants
Neuromotor abnormalities (such as abnormal movement and gross motor abilities) are often caused by often unseen damage t ...
NOV 02, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Amino Acid Supplements May Prevent Neuronal Death & Dementia
NOV 02, 2021
Amino Acid Supplements May Prevent Neuronal Death & Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for several age-related disorders that can cause cognitive problems such as dysfunction in ...
NOV 08, 2021
Technology
Violent Video Games Can Make Players More Aggressive, Just Not Towards Other People
NOV 08, 2021
Violent Video Games Can Make Players More Aggressive, Just Not Towards Other People
Do violent video games cause players to initiate real-life acts of aggression and violence? The question is one that&rsq ...
NOV 19, 2021
Neuroscience
Could Your Heart Rate Indicate the Health of Your Relationship?
NOV 19, 2021
Could Your Heart Rate Indicate the Health of Your Relationship?
When old couples are close to each other, their heart rates synchronize in complex patterns of interaction. The correspo ...
DEC 31, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Alzheimer's Risk Gene May Impair Neuroprotective Mechanism
DEC 31, 2021
Alzheimer's Risk Gene May Impair Neuroprotective Mechanism
Our bodies have some healing and regenerative capabilities. For most of us, cuts will mend, we'll recover from mild infe ...
Loading Comments...