Reward-power nap combo ‘key to learning’

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Washington | Published: October 17, 2015 9:10:29 AM

All we really need is some rewards and power naps to boost our learning and productivity, according to a recent study.

All we really need is some rewards and power naps to boost our learning and productivity, according to a recent study.

The University of Geneva study suggests that receiving rewards as you learn can help cement new facts and skills in your memory, particularly when combined with a daytime nap.

The findings reveal that memories associated with a reward are preferentially reinforced by sleep. Even a short nap after a period of learning is beneficial.

Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning, says lead researcher Kinga Igloi, adding that during sleep, that information is favourably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory.

The findings are relevant for understanding the devastating effects that lack of sleep can have on achievement, she noted.

Igloi further said that they already knew that sleep helps strengthens memories, but they now also know that it helps people select and retain those that have a rewarding value.

The study is to be published in the journal eLife.

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