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Innovative Method to Improve Memory While Sleeping

Israeli researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Weizmann Institute have developed a method to influence the process of memory formation in one of the two hemispheres of the brain during sleep. The technique, which uses scent to stimulate memory, could help those who have suffered brain damage to strengthen their memory. It could also restore brain balance for people suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder. "We know that during sleep, the process of memory consolidation takes place, during which memories recently accumulated in short-term memory located in the hippocampus are gradually transferred into long-term memory located in the cerebral cortex", explains Prof. Yuval Nir from the School of Neuroscience at TAU. "In this study, we sought to examine in depth the process of memory formation in the brain during sleep, by comparing brain activity between the areas where it occurs and others. Participants were asked to memorize the locations of words that appeared in front of them one after the other on a screen, some on the right and some on the left. The odor, linked in the brain of the participants in the learning task previously carried out, came from the nostril in which it was injected into the part of the brain situated on the same side. We compared its effect on the memory consolidation process on the side affected by the odor versus the side, which had not received the scent pulses. In particular, they found that sleep on the side of the brain that absorbed odor was lighter at that time, and the lighter it was, the better the subject's memory. The method that we have developed makes it possible for the first time to compare the process of memory consolidation in the two hemispheres of the brain," concluded Prof. Nir. (i24/VFI News)