What helps the process of consolidating new memories

Dr Eve Van Cauter, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and director of the study, said, "We suspect that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss." Should we draw any conclusion from the finding that sleep deprivation increased the subjects’ belief that they were right, especially when they were wrong, and the finding that chronic sleep deprivation may mimic the hallmarks of aging?

No, let us merely note that many people become more certain of their own opinions as they mature into wisdom.

In this case, whether or not they had had caffeine made no difference.

In another series of experiments, the brains of sleep-deprived and rested participants were scanned while the participants performed complex cognitive tasks.

Some of the debate in this area concerns the stage of sleep that may be necessary.

The contenders are the deep "slow wave" sleep that occurs in the first half of the night, and "REM" (rapid eye movement) sleep (that occurs while you are dreaming).

(For you coffee addicts, no, the caffeine didn’t help the people who were not sleep-deprived).

Interestingly, sleep deprivation increased the subjects’ belief that they were right, especially when they were wrong.

One of the things we do know is that young birds and mammals need as much as three times the amount of sleep as adult birds and mammals.

In the second experiment, the task involved verbal learning.

Again, those sleep-deprived performed worse, but in this case, only a little, and the prefrontal areas of the brain remained active, while parietal lobe activity actually increased.

A recent study, for example, found that recognition memory for faces was unaffected by people being deprived of sleep for 35 hours.

However, while the sleep-deprived people remembered that the faces were familiar, they did have much more difficulty remembering in which of two sets of photos the faces had appeared.

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