Publicaciones Destacadas

Sueño - Un estudio clínico acerca del sueño profundo y el aprendizaje

Publiqué este en Junio del 2017. Lo vuelvo a compartir contigo a fecha de 16 de abril, 2019.

Summary: Researchers shed light on why deep sleep is important for learning efficiency in the brain.

Source: University of Zurich.

For the first time, researchers of the University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have demonstrated the causal context of why deep sleep is important to the learning efficiency of the human brain. They have developed a new, non-invasive method for modulating deep sleep in humans in a targeted region of the brain.

Most people know from their own experience that just a single sleepless night can lead to difficulty in mastering mental tasks the next day. Researchers assume that deep sleep is essential for maintaining the learning efficiency of the human brain in the long term. While we are awake, we constantly receive impressions from our environment, whereby numerous connections between the nerve cells – so-called synapses – are excited and intensified at times. The excitation of the synapses does not normalize again until we fall asleep. Without a recovery phase, many synapses remain maximally excited, which means that changes in the system are no longer possible: Learning efficiency is blocked.

Causal connection between deep sleep and learning efficiency

The connection between deep sleep and learning efficiency has long been known and proven. Now, researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have been able to demonstrate a causal connection within the human brain for the first time. Reto Huber, professor at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich and of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UZH, and Nicole Wenderoth, professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at the ETH Zurich, have succeeded in manipulating the deep sleep of test subjects in targeted areas. “We have developed a method that lets us reduce the sleep depth in a certain part of the brain and therefore prove the causal connection between deep sleep and learning efficiency,” says Reto Huber.

Subjective sleep quality was not impaired.

In the two-part experiment with six women and seven men, the test subjects had to master three different motoric tasks. The concrete assignment was to learn various sequences of finger movements throughout the day. At night, the brain activity of the test subjects during sleep was monitored by EEG. While the test subjects were able to sleep without disturbance after the learning phase on the first day, their sleep was manipulated in a targeted manner on the second day of the experiment – using acoustic stimulation during the deep sleep phase. To do so, the researchers localized precisely that part of the brain responsible for learning the abovementioned finger movements, i.e., for the control of motor skills (motor cortex). The test subjects were not aware of this manipulation; to them, the sleep quality of both experimental phases was comparable on the following day. Deep sleep disturbances impair learning efficiency