Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning in your sleep: New facts about the brain

For a long time, scientists thought that the brain becomes passive and takes a break when it goes to sleep. However, they found out that the brain is still eager when asleep and can learn new things. Neuroscientist Anat Arzi who studies the sense of smell otherwise known as olfaction participated in this research. Arzi and his co-researchers did not try to teach the volunteers complex words or facts however, taught the volunteers the relationship of smell and sound togeher.
Since our sense of smell does not turn off as well, Arzi and his researchers took a repulsive smell and a very nice sweet smell. Everytime they would let the volunteer asleep smell these smells back and forth, the researchers played a particular note followed by that particular smell. This was repeated four times. Even when the smell after four times was abscent, the volunteers took a deep breath when the "good smell" note was played and held their breath when the "bad smell" note was played. This was also true even when the volunteers woke up which meant the volunteers learned by their sense of smell and the sense of sound.
Without knowing that the brain could learn something new by sound and smell, from reading the article, I thought that it was saying that we learn something new from the dreams we have at first. Then, when I learned it was from sound and smell I thought it was very interesting however I did not know where it would be helpful to use and apply since we dont necessarily connect with sound and smell when we are awake normally. I also began to think if this would work with animals' brains as well. I also wanted to learn which state brain becomes the most active in for example if it is during REM sleep period while conducting this experiment.


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