Link Between Learning and Sleep
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A recent article on The Guardian examines research in mice that suggests sleep may aid memory and learning by promoting the formation of new nerve cell connections.

In “Sleep May Help Memories Form by Promoting New Synapses,” author Mo Costandi synthesizes research reported in the June 2014 issue of Science magazine.

Costandi writes, “We know that learning and memory involve the modification of synapses, the connections between nerve cells, but it wasn’t entirely clear how sleep aids memory consolidation.”


However, Wenbiao Gan of the Langone Medical Center at New York University trained mice to run backwards or forwards on a rotating rod, then left some of them to sleep while keeping the rest awake. The experiments showed that the neurons that were activated during learning of the task were reactivated during sleep.

So, perhaps it would be a good idea to remind trainees to go home and sleep after a full day of learning. 

For more details on the study, read the complete article, “Sleep May Help Memories Form by Promoting New Synapses.”

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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