Learn in Your Sleep

Are we really completely cut off from diplomacy while we sleep?

Research has found that when we are in a lucid dream, when we clearly know we are dreaming, we can hear and even respond to sounds outside of sleep. According to the experiment of Konkoly et al. (2020), during sleep, the participants were able to correctly answer simple math questions posed by the researchers, as well as answer "yes" or "no" to the questions through left and right eye movements or facial muscle contractions. ". In addition, after waking up from the dream, the participants were more able to say the questions asked by the experimenter and the answers they made. Interestingly, some of the participants pointed out that these questions merged with their dreams as one of the "plots" of their dreams. To understand and answer these questions, we need the help of working memory, which allows our brains to continuously process the information we receive in the moment. This shows that during sleep, our brains continue to function and are even able to perform simple cognitive functions that are used, such as arithmetic operations.

However, lucid dreaming only occurs during rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), so can we receive information from the outside world outside of REM sleep? In their study, Arzi et al. (2014) found that smokers can perform associative learning in their sleep, thereby reducing the number of cigarettes smoked. The experiment uses the theory of instrumental conditioning. During the experiment, the researchers released the smell of smoke (conditioned stimulus; conditioned stimuli) and the repulsive smell (unconditioned stimulus; unconditioned stimuli) successively during the sleep of the experimental group, so that the two were produced during the participants' sleep. link, thereby making smokers feel negatively about the smell of smoke. The results showed that compared with the group that only smelled the disgusting odor and the control group (no smell at all), the smokers in the experimental group had a significant reduction in the number of cigarettes after the experiment, and this situation was more maintained to the fourth. sky. In the experimental group, participants who experienced associative learning during slow-wave sleep had a greater reduction in smoking and maintained it for a longer period of time compared to REM sleep.

In addition, in slow-wave sleep, we are more able to "learn to forget". In the experiment of Simon et al. (2018), they first asked participants to memorize five groups of objects and their corresponding sounds. During slow-wave sleep, the researchers played the corresponding sound of the object followed by a tone that suggested forgetting (which participants had learned in previous training to represent forgetting). After seven days, the experimental group could recall significantly fewer objects than the control group. It can be seen that when we sleep, we can still hear external sounds and respond accordingly.

Our brains can be said to work 24 hours a day, and there is no "shutdown" moment even during sleep. During sleep, we can still receive external information, answer other people's questions, and even learn during sleep. You can also try a little experiment at home: play a short YouTube clip while you sleep and see if you can remember what you heard in your sleep when you wake up!

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