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Evidence that learning is consolidated during sleep

and whose brains were then scanned during sleep;
  • one that did not undergo any training and whose brains were scanned.

    The researchers measured the subjects' brain activity using positron emission tomography (PET) to measure blood flow in the subjects' brain regions. In PET, test subjects receive a harmless dose of radioactive tracer, and their brains are scanned as the tracer infuses through the brain. Blood flow through specific brain structures constitutes a measure of activity in that structure.

    The researchers found that the first group -- compared to the non-trained group -- showed greater activity in their hippocampus and an adjacent learning-related region as they took the route tests, with greater activity correlated with better performance. The group scanned during sleep after testing also showed greater hippocampal brain activity during sleep, compared to the non-trained group.

    Importantly, when the researchers compared the hippocampal activity during SWS sleep in the trained group and the non-trained group, they found that the first group showed higher activity.

    Next, the researchers tested the trained group after their sleep session and compared their performance with the brain activity measured during sleep. They found that the higher the gain in post-sleep performance, the higher had been their NREM brain activity during sleep. No such correlation was found in REM brain activity.

    To ensure that they were, indeed, measuring brain activity due to spatial processing, Peigneux and his colleagues also compared brain activity data from the spatially trained group with data from a fourth group that had only taken a reaction time test. In that test, the subjects' brains were scanned as they pressed a key as fast and accurately as possible corresponding to the location of a dot on a computer screen.

    Thus, the data from the fourth group allowed the researchers to distinguish brain activity changes d
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  • Contact: Heidi Hardman
    hhardman@cell.com
    617-397-2879
    Cell Press
    27-Oct-2004


    Page: 1 2 3

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