Sleep loss produces false memories

Posted on July 17, 2008 

Sleep loss produces false memories

Sleepless nights can increase your chances of forming false memories, according to researchers in Germany and Switzerland. But, as for so many aspects of life, it seems that coffee can save the day.

Although neuroscientists know that memories can be strengthened while we are asleep, it’s been unclear whether false memories form as we slumber or whether they are only consolidated when we are asked to recall the information the following morning.

To find out, Susanne Diekelmann in Jan Born’s lab at the University of Lübeck, Germany, and her colleagues asked volunteers to learn lists of words, each list relating to a particular topic. For example, they might learn the words ‘white’, ‘dark’, ‘cat’ and ‘night’ — all of which can be linked to the word ‘black’ — but black itself would not be part of the list.

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