At least this week I have a legitimate excuse for the tardiness of Neury Thursday. I’m in Atlanta visiting a potential lab for post-docing and spent all day yesterday visiting their core facilities and sightseeing.
I will say that I have been extremely impressed (and excited) about the acceptance of numerous sleep/circadian-related publications in the Journal of Neuroscience the past few months. Some issues have even had more than one sleep/circadian article published!!! Woot!! Woot!!! At least someone cares about the future of our field….can’t say the same for the NIH…….
In this week’s issue, an eclectic mix of researchers from Great Britian, the East Coast, and the Midwest found a direct, ppositive effect of sleep and the appearance of sleep spindles on the ability to enhance (or challenge) one’s lexicon.
The experimental design of this study was pretty fracking cool and well-developed. Basically, subjects were presented with phonologically similar, yet nonexisting words to actual words (e.g. cathedruke vs. cathedral) before a night’s worth of sleep (or sleep deprivation). Memory retention and recall of these novel words were assessed by the subject’s ability to recall the new word the following day of testing and secondarily, by a delay in the recall of its phonologically similar actual word (a maker of interference).
And the results…………..as hypothesized, the retention and recall of the phonologically similar nonexistng words were greatly improved in the sleepers. As anticipated, the all-nighters had poor retention and recall. Secondly, there was a delayed recall of the phonologically similar actual words, which again, would secondarily support retention and recall of novel words via interference. Even more interesting, recall performance was directly and positively correlated with the frequency and intensity of spindles. A few months ago, I reported about the sleep protection spindles offer when someone lives in a noisy, sleep-distracting environment.
Overall, this study certainly reemphasizes the importance of a good’s night sleep for sound cognitive functioning. I look forward to seeing more of this group’s work at this year’s SfN meeting and possibly, the Data Blitz event on Tuesday night.