Sleep ‘prioritises memories we care about’

A study has found that during sleep, the experiences you care about are more likely to enter your long-term memory.

A person peacefully sleeping, embraced by a radiant aura symbolizing the prioritization of cherished memories during sleep."
Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay


Those who slept showed an increased ability to learn the words, and the effect was greatest in those who placed personal value on the language.

This suggests that memories perceived as important undergo preferential treatment by the brain during sleep.

“The mere fact that your beliefs about something seem to effect how the brain processes things during the night is really quite astounding,” said Prof Mark Blagrove from Swansea University, who conducted the research with colleague Elaine van Rijn.

The researchers conducted the test on native English-speaking university students who had recently arrived in Wales and had not previously lived in the country.

Using a tablet computer app, the researchers presented the participants with 28 Welsh and Breton translations of English words.

Additionally, the participants were asked to rate their value for the Welsh language. (prioritises memories)

The study took place in the Swansea sleep lab, where the team also investigates the occurrence and effects of dreams.

A recent study has revealed that sleep plays a crucial role in prioritizing memories that hold personal significance. The research findings, presented at the British Science Festival, have provided the first demonstration that the influence of emotional value on memory consolidation during sleep. The upcoming publication in the Journal of Sleep Research will contribute new insights into the intricate relationship between sleep and the consolidation of memories we deeply cherish.

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