Coffee Break Boosts Memory

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A coffee break
after an important meeting or class may be just the thing your brain
needs to digest new information and improve memory.

A new study
suggests that resting while awake aids in memory consolidation and
improves memory recall, much like getting a good night’s sleep
has been shown to do.

"Taking
a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information
you just learned," researcher Lila Davachi, PhD, assistant
professor of psychology at the Center for Neural Science at New
York University, says in a news release. "Your brain wants
you to tune out other tasks so you can tune in to what you just
learned."

Researchers
found that activity between the hippocampus and neocortex, two key
brain areas involved in memory and processing, increased during
periods of wakeful rest after a learning task. This increase in
activity was also associated with improved memory.

"Your
brain is working for you when you’re resting, so rest is important
for memory and cognitive function," Davachi says. "This
is something we don’t appreciate much, especially when today’s information
technologies keep us working around the clock."

Resting
Revs Up Memory

In the study,
published in Neuron, 16 adults were shown pairs of images
followed by periods of wakeful rest. The participants were not told
that their memory of these images would be tested later, but they
were told to relax and think about whatever they wanted during the
rest period.

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February
3, 2010

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