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Study Suggests You Can Learn New Things In Your Sleep 99

bbianca127 writes "Researchers studied classical conditioning in 55 study participants while sleeping or awake. According to the article, 'Classical conditioning teaches a person or animal to associate one stimulus with another.' The researchers paired tones with scents; when they played a tone, they would let out a particular scent while the participants were sleeping. They found that the participants would make the association between the tones and scents even while awake."
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Study Suggests You Can Learn New Things In Your Sleep

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  • I knew it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by lazybeam ( 162300 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:56PM (#41142599) Homepage

    My sleepy lectures weren't wasting time after all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I guess it really does help to put the textbook under your pillow the night before the exam.

    • in some lectures staying up does not help much anyways even more so for the ones that just reading from the book.

    • I believe it. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about 10 years ago. I got maybe 10-15 minutes of REM sleep a night (which isn't enough.)

      Basically I was so sleep deprived that I was sleeping all the time. I was constantly sleeping in lectures and even sometimes through lab sessions.

      Oddly enough I averaged a high B/low A score. My peers weren't too happy when they saw me sleeping all the time and getting scores they were struggling to get.

    • inb4 fart jokes

      (as in, "My wife knows the sound of music")

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      I don't really sleep on lectures, but in high school I snoozed a lot during classes. Strangely enough you can memorize stuff better if you are in a half asleep state.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:00PM (#41142643)

    And nobody wants to learn it.

  • That isn't some New Age platitude but Carl Jung and others have given great insight into something that still can't quite be quantified yet. Why, just last night I had a dream reminding me about watering my plant that's dying. Thanks id.
    • The fact that you remember your dream suggests you did, in fact, learn something.

      • by relikx ( 1266746 )
        I guess my "of course" only implies that I support the conclusion and that I learned something. Makes sense how my comment is confusing, I only mean the broader aspects of the subconscious "can't quite be quantified yet." Thanks for the info exchange.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I guess my "of course" only implies that I support the conclusion and that I learned something. Makes sense how my comment is confusing, I only mean the broader aspects of the subconscious "can't quite be quantified yet." Thanks for the info exchange.

          I don't think dreaming really has as much to do with the subconscious as people think it does. When I was a kid I wanted to learn to ride my bike with no hands, but was too scared of crashing and getting hurt to actually try it. One night I was dreaming about riding my bike, realized I was dreaming, and decided to try it with no hands. The next day I got up, went out, and rode with no hands. I was simply visualizing what I wanted to do, just like an athlete preparing for a competition visualizes their actio

          • When I was a kid I wanted to learn to ride my bike with no hands, but was too scared of crashing and getting hurt to actually try it. One night I was dreaming about riding my bike, realized I was dreaming, and decided to try it with no hands. The next day I got up, went out, and rode with no hands. I was simply visualizing what I wanted to do, just like an athlete preparing for a competition visualizes their actions ahead of time to prepare. The fact that I was asleep was basically not relevant, other than I was able to visualize the detail much more vividly.

            When I was a kid I wanted to be able to fly, but couldn't figure out how to do it. One night I was dreaming about riding my bike, realized I was dreaming, and decided to try making my bike fly. Unfortunately, the technique didn't work when I woke up the next day.

            Moral of the story: lucid dreaming is great for visualizing what you want to do and for seeing things in great detail -- it however is not limited by the laws of physics, and logic is sometimes suspended. As such, you can "learn" things while dre

    • Why, just last night I had a dream reminding me about watering my plant that's dying.

      Hope you washed the sheets

  • Omelette... (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:07PM (#41142745)

    ...du fromage!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is not offtopic. It's an obscure reference to Dexter's Lab, and the first thing I thought of when I read this headline.

    • au fromage :P

      (But yes, I remember the Dexter's lab episode, and Parent is *ON*topic)

  • by ( 245670 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:09PM (#41142757)

    Marge: Homer, has the weight loss tape reduced your appetite?
    Homer: Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satieties.

  • So... the logical conclusion:
    Tape your eyes open and fall asleep under infographic posters.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a lot closer to Hypnosis or Brainwashing, in fact.

    The funny thing about Hypnosis, is that it comes from Hypnos, meaning Sleep, meaning they proved you are far more suggestible when sleeping...
    which we already knew.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Doesn't matter what you call it, so long as you learn it.

      I once tried studying Icelandic with audio tapes in my sleep. The problem was, I simply could neither fall asleep nor stay asleep with it on. My brain just had too much hearing taking in language that it had trouble with without calling my full attention into processing it.

    • If conditioning isn't learning, then what is learning? And what is the difference between brainwashing and learning?

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:14PM (#41142841) Journal

    First I thought this article was cool, but it's not, so i'm going to try to spice it up.

    When I was 16 and taking drivers ed, i was in a position in my life where I either had to practice on a huge tank of a car (automatic) or drive my sisters VW Bug (stick). Well, my sister always stressed out and yelled at me, and the owner of the other car was always busy, so i didn't do too much practicing of my driving.
    So, just before the test, i had a dream where I was driving a stick, and it was a stress free enviroment and I was seeing how it went. How it felt to let the clutch out, switch the gear, etc.

    Anyways, after that, I didn't have a problem driving stick shifts anymore. Ya, of course, someone might point out that I learned how to drive the stick in RL, but got the necessary practice in my dreams. So fuck you, I beat ya to it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I did the exact same thing. I tried driving a stick for real when I was 18 (for some reason I never had to drive a stick during Driver's Ed) and stalled out a car while trying to make a left turn on a busy street... that was scary. Weeks later I had a dream about driving a stick, and so I gave it a try again... and haven't had any problems since.

    • by plover ( 150551 ) *

      The more plausible answer is that you simply aren't stupid. The light weight of the vehicle, the noisy engine (you sure don't need a tach in a Bug), and simple H-pattern made the VW Beetle one of the easiest of all manual transmissions to drive.

      Sticks are actually very easy to learn, despite their undeserved reputation. The only skill most people lack is confidence - once they understand that the pedal takes a smooth touch, but the gear lever takes a decisive action, they're good to go.

      I also learned to d

      • Sticks are actually very easy to learn

        That's not entirely true. It's easy to make a stick shift vehicle make it's way down the road, but it's an entirely different proposition to do it correctly and actually match the RPMs. Then throw in heel-and-toeing, skipping gears, and accelerating quickly (while still smoothly) and it's an art that almost no driver does to perfection except maybe Jackie Stewart. Hell, I doubt most modern F1 drivers can drive a stick to perfection as they all drive semi-autos these days.

        Also, it really depends on the car.

        • The machismo aside, I still can't imagine why anyone would willingly want to repeatedly perform such touchy and precise control manipulations. These are clearly a machine or computer's job. I mean, I respect folks who do it, and I can understand it being "fun", it's just so impractical.

          I mean, nobody using a modern computer does an IPL by hand when they turn their computer on anymore.

          • 1. It's safer, especially in crappy conditions. In the snow I can keep my RPMs low so I don't have to worry about the tires spinning. Going into a turn I can downshift BEFORE the turn, which an automatic can't do (same applies for hills).

            2. Once it becomes muscle memory it's not so difficult to do it well. The problem is most people learn to do it incorrectly. Perfection isn't really attainable for most, but almost anyone can do it well if they're taught correctly.

            3. As you stated, it's fun.

            4. Going back to

          • I still can't imagine why anyone would willingly want to repeatedly perform such touchy and precise control manipulations.

            I used to be a horrible driver.
            Seriously bad, as in, I wrecked four cars in two years.Thankfully never causing any bodily harm to anyone. Of course, that was when I was 16, but I fault this largely on my inability to focus while driving an automatic. I would *space out* while driving on straight roads for long periods of time or even sometimes when going through repetitive stop-and-go traffic. The first car I bought with a manual transmission changed my life- I never had a wreck again and it's been ten ye

        • by plover ( 150551 ) *

          You ignored the details of the GP post. He wasn't trying to qualify for NASCAR, he wasn't learning in a BMW, he wasn't trying out to be the next Jason Statham. He needed to pass a driver's license test, and he believed he did it thanks to the dreamworld. At that initial stage of learning, matching RPMs is barely even required, as driving test examiners aren't judging proficiency, just adequacy. And acquiring that much skill on a stick really takes no more than a practice drive or two.

      • by fisted ( 2295862 )
        > but the gear lever takes a decisive action Oh noes, is this actual American wisdom on how to drive w/ manual transmission? How ironic. No wonder the cliché is you don't drive automatic for no reason. (Yeah, mod me troll)

        FWIW, you should go easy on the gear lever (while there's no need to be gentle with the clutch in any situation other than starting, it just causes the clutch to wear out more quickly). Being 'decisive' with the gear lever will shorten the transmission's lifespan, the slower you s
        • by plover ( 150551 ) *

          Decisive does not mean hamfisted, or pounding the stick like it owes you money. It simply means confidence.

          I've seen kids learning who take it out of second gear, then contemplate the H pattern, then push it over, then tentatively push it sort-of up, then let up on the clutch to the sound of unmeshed gears, then push a little harder... Confidence means moving the stick where it has to go in a timely fashion. Getting a learner past that hurdle is a key step in learning stick.

  • by c0lo ( 1497653 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:20PM (#41142941)
    New things? Really? Wake me up when they managed to teach me string theory in my sleep so well that I can recall it with a smell or tone while awake.

    My point: they discovered that, while asleep, the brain is able to reinforce and create relations between the things/experiences learned while awake? If so, how is this new []?

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:26PM (#41143007) Homepage

    There's plenty of stuff that I've been taught, but simply didn't understand. But could understand it after a night of sleep, heck. I've been woken up by those flashes of "oh shit, I get it" moments as the brain is working through something very complex that my conscious mind couldn't grasp. I believe that would fall under the "learning while you're asleep."

    • "Having, by a time of very intense concentration, planted the problem in my sub-consciousness, it would germinate underground until, suddenly, the solution emerged with blinding clarity, so that it only remained to write down what had appeared as if in a revelation." []

      • by Xest ( 935314 )

        Yes, whilst studying maths I've long learnt that doing assignments last minute isn't a good idea, not because you may run out of time in the classic sense, but because you might run out of nights where you can sleep on the more difficult problems.

        I tended to find if I work through an assignment, and get really stuck, the best thing to do is sleep on it. The next day I'll have figured much of it out in my head.

        Interestingly I find water to have a similar effect, showering, bathing, or swimming underwater bri

  • by Kittenman ( 971447 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:28PM (#41143037)
    I remember back in the 70s that you could buy tapes, play 'em on a deck under your pillow and learn all sorts of things. Well, that's what we were told. The fact that we're not all multi-lingual Brain surgeons who work weekends in the local Rocket science shop gives me the impression it was all nonsense.
  • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:34PM (#41143085)
    Don't go to work naked.
  • Like ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:46PM (#41143201)

    ... rolling over onto morning wood is uncomfortable as hell.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @06:57PM (#41143295) Homepage

    I believe there was a pretty good statement of how this worked in Brave New World. There was enough information available then (1931) to say that this didn't work worth a damn.

    People haven't changed much since 1931 and what didn't work then doesn't work now. However, the idea that this could be used to influence people (rather than to educate them) has not really been explored to any depth. Sure, it might work. There is some evidence that the "self confidence" tapes from long ago (1960s?) had some effect or at least people were buying them for "sleep improvement". However, this has the rather nasty implications of "programming" people and the unfortunate ways this could be utilized. Also explored by Brave New World as it was pretty obvious how this could be misused back then.

  • Lucid dreamers (and researchers) have known this for quite some time. Being conscious of the fact that you are dreaming allows you to learn things that fear might otherwise prevent you from doing.
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @07:49PM (#41143853) Homepage
    Just last night I learned that Popeye had banned me from climbing ladders. Then, for some odd reason, getting in the shower lifted me up to the roof so I got there without a ladder. I thought Popeye would be mad, but he had left the dream. Go figure . . . .
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Monday August 27, 2012 @08:06PM (#41143993) Journal

    I've solved problems while sleeping... including one memorable time where I found a solution to one particular computer bug in some software I was writing that had been troubling me for a few days (the error in my dream, and in reality, turned out to be caused by a mistyped condition that was executed very infrequently, and which was simply missing a boolean negation). Of course, the reasonable explanation for this is that because I had seen the code so many times by that point, my eyes had already viewed the error, I had simply not previously recognized it as such. Somehow, this manifested in a dream where I was working on the program, and happened to catch the error. I don't know exactly why I recognized the error in my dream, but I know that the only reason I spotted the error in real life was because I remembered that dream and decided to look at the applicable place in the code. Nonethless, that was a really bizarre experience... one I'm sure I'll never forget.

    But I can't really say I've ever *LEARNED* anything new while sleeping though... only at most, discovered new ways of thinking about things that I really did already know.

    • Wow, you were working in your sleep? That sucks.

      Just imagine a day when the tech exists to enable us to work in our sleep. About two days after the tech is introduced, it will be mandatory.

  • It's True (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @08:17PM (#41144057)

    This is an anecdote but it's a fairly convincing one:

    I once had a roommate who was a sports fanatic who worked as a server in a sports bar/restaurant at the time. He would listened to sports radio while he slept - usually it was the west coast baseball games (we're in EST) - and he claimed that the broadcasters would basically narrate his dreams of baseball. He knew most the players so if he heard something like, "Bonds hits it to center field, he slides to first and is safe," it's something he could envision realistically.

    It's easy to dismiss this as a wild claim he made, but the proof was in the pudding. He could, with confidence, talk about the games the next day before hearing/seeing anything about them. He knew the scores, the big plays, damn near everything as well as if he had watched it on TV. His customers ate it up - they'd love to put him to the test before the highlights would show up on the tube.

    • by zachie ( 2491880 )
      Some time ago I used to listen to a news radio station to help me sleep. They repeat the what is essentially the same batch of news every 30 min. So, perhaps a couple times, I incorporated the news in my dreams, for example that I was watching the news on TV, or somebody was telling me about the news. I am unsure if next morning I would have been able to recall a piece of news introduced while I was asleep, though.
      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        The simplest explanation would be that there are sleep cycles, and during part of the cycle you are half asleep and half aware: it's easy to 'guide' dreams during those, as well as possible to remember something you heard.
  • When we were playing Q2 regularly, maybe 10 years ago, we noticed you completely knew a new map after "sleeping on it".

    Works for math, too; just don't learn to do something wrong and go to sleep, lol.

  • I can vouch for this: I learned the moonwalk in my sleep back when I was about 12 or 13. Up to that point, I had no idea how to do it. Minor example, I know, but it's true.
  • So, that is why my girlfriend remembers everything I say to her while she is asleep - it's the fart smell association!
  • I am tellin' ya, it is the way I've learned everything! :-D

  • When will the fruits of plebeian slumber ripen to rouse the famished! I've dreamt of many things -- of kingdoms and of hells, of riches and great struggles. But come the rising sun, its searing breath upon a weary head, behold, the cozy quietus posing as another wakeful day.
  • it's how I learned French to the point where I aced my GCSE in French at 13.

    At the suggestion of my teacher, I played French movies and language tapes (prerecorded during lessons) while I slept. Came to the oral exam, my responses were "natural, instant and almost accentless" according to the examiner.

  • People have been listening to tapes at night for years and learning nothing. Somebody suddenly gets a Pavlovian response and the promise of a PhD while you snore leaps into some journalistic mind. Please, there are far more advances in anti-gravity and time travel that make more interesting reading.

  • Back when I had huge applications to program for college, I'd be up until the early morning and my brain would be spun up into high gear so it'd be hard to fall asleep. Often times, I'd finally get to sleep and keep writing the software in my sleep. Then I'd wake up and be mad that I'd have to retype it all but retyping it as soon as I woke up proved that it actually was pretty good code :-D
    Also, since there's a popular theory that dreams are merely simulations of situations that your brain can practice
  • Just play some recording telling the children that they should wake up and use the restroom when they feel the need to go potty.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun