• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Memory Consolidation and REM Sleep.

Extracts from this document...


Memory Consolidation and REM Sleep Aldous Huxley's Brave New World considers the possibility of humans learning simply by listening to recorded messages played during their sleep. Can learning really be this simple? What is the role of sleep in learning and memory? It is known that sleep exists in two phases, REM and Non REM sleep. It is speculated that Non REM sleep is the time that the body and brain use to rebuild themselves after a long period of wakefulness (1). REM sleep, however cannot be easily explained. Scientists have speculated that REM sleep performs many functions among them development of the brain, synthesis of neuro-proteins, and coordination of eye movements (1). This paper will explore one specific function of REM sleep: the role in memory consolidation. There are many theories floating around the internet, but no common truths about the mechanisms of how the brain serves to remember events of the day during REM sleep. REM sleep is a period late in the sleep cycle in which the brain and body become active, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. The eyes shudder quickly back and forth, giving this stage the name Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Electroencephalograph patterns for REM sleep are much like those during wakefulness, and include many fast beta-rhythms (2). ...read more.


Replaying memories over in our heads is the nature of dreams during REM sleep. Opponents of this theory often wonder why don't we remember our dreams if dreaming is involved in memory? The answer is that dreaming acts as the short-term unconscious mechanism by which memories may be delivered to the neocortex (5). We remember the memory, but not how it is delivered. Remembering dreams "...would be the equivalent of keeping a record of manifestations of each night's record keeping. Included in the record of one night's record keeping would be a record of the record keeping of the previous night, which itself would include a record of the record keeping two nights earlier, etc. Keeping such redundant records, which would tend to increase exponentially, would overwhelm our brains with tremendous amounts of useless information (records of record keeping)." (5) Experimental data with animals seems to agree with the functional link between REM sleep and memory. Rats subjected to learning tasks demonstrated increased REM sleep after these tests. This reflects that learning induces REM sleep. In addition, it was found that rats subjected to learning fell into REM sleep faster if they had experienced more trials of the learning activity. A possible explanation of the earlier occurrence of REM sleep may be that as more information is acquired, it becomes more urgent to begin the memory consolidation process (7). ...read more.


The mechanism by which this process takes place is based on the random stimulation of the forebrain by the brain stem, which in turn excites the neurons corresponding to the unwanted memories. The strengths of these individual synapses will be modified during reverse learning so that they will less likely to be activated in the future. The authors of this theory admit that directly testing this theory is difficult, and thus it remains speculative at this time (8). If there is definite link between memory and REM sleep, it has not yet been proven with certainty. However, I believe that such a connection exists. There are many mechanisms through which the brain accomplishes any task. Definitively proving this connection would imply controlling for all other mechanisms by which the memory stores information. Sleep deprivation studies cannot accurately measure the body's memory capacity because other mechanisms will compensate for the loss of sleep. Despite this, there are many studies which do reflect the brain's decreased memory capacity during REM deprivation. This is a good indication that a link exists. I know from experience that sleep effects my ability to perform even the simplest of daily mental activities. Likewise it has not been proven that Aldous Huxley's vision of learning during sleep is valid. Until such theories are proven, I am content in thinking that sleep has an effect on memory. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Physiological Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

An interesting topic and a challenging essay. Some good points that mainly need development of evaluation.

4 Stars

Marked by teacher Stephanie Duckworth 24/10/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Physiological Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss the nature of sleep, including two explanations of the functions of sleep

    3 star(s)

    sleep is to repair the brain, it could be due to trauma, shock or damage a part of the brain that regulates sleep. A 1984 study showed that marine dolphins sleep with one hemisphere at a time which means they cannot undergo REM sleep which disproves the theory, however this

  2. Stress can be explained as the stimulus in the environment that triggers a stress ...

    Lack of control - (influence over the type & amount of work) MARMOT et al (1997) - Lack of Control & Illness in the Workplace * 7000+ civil services employee, working in London were surveyed. Information about their grades of employment, how much control they felt they had, how much support they felt they had etc.

  1. Free essay

    Psychology of sport performance

    Everyone at one point in their life experiences stress and anxiety. It is only when it goes on for long that it becomes a problem. From the previous questions I can see just how much strain it can become on an athlete who is under stress.

  2. I will talk about the history and what the psychological and physical aspects of ...

    Nowadays with hypnosis we are taught to suggest to the client to just relax the muscles. It is well known that being too tense and/or living with too much stress has a significant negative impact on our lives and can lead to physical illness such as high blood pressure, ulcers, fatigue and headaches.

  1. Discuss the Concepts of Nature and Nurture in Relation to Gender Development. Refer to ...

    This the majority of girls learnt to behave in a feminine way and boy in a masculine way. This side of the argument allows us to understand why some of us choose a different gender to their sex expected. For example a tomboy would have experience an upbringing of have

  2. Discuss the role of neural and hormonal mechanisms in aggression.

    used effectively to control violent behaviour in selective groups such as elderly patients with dementia living in residential nursing homes, and aggressive children. In addition, the link between testosterone and aggression has been used to inform the argument why the presence of guns in the environment may increase aggression.

  1. Outline the social factors that may influence gender roles

    This may affect them as they may stop from repeating that behaviour and this may make them start to act like other boys in order to fit in. The child?s gender role behaviour can be affected because they may end up avoiding doing anything that would be considered girlish.

  2. Discuss research/theories investigating the influence of childhood on adult relationships

    This suggests that childhood has a great impact on later relationships at all stages. Although Simpson?s research suggests that childhood experiences will have a fixed effect on all future relationships, implying that if a child is insecurely attached in infancy, this will be the result in all relationships to be.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work