Jul 10, 2012

The Discovery Files: Sleep Study

Want to nail that tune that you've practiced and practiced? Maybe take a nap with the same melody playing during your sleep, provocative Northwestern University research suggests.

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

To sleep--perchance to learn

I'm Bob Karson with the discovery files--new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation.

A Northwestern University study has participants sleeping during class. Specifically, testing the effects of brain stimulation during sleep on skill enhancement. Participants were given two simple random melodies to learn to play on a key press. After working on the task, they were allowed a 90-minute nap. As subjects entered the stage of sleep associated with cementing memories the "slow wave"[1] stage, researchers played one of the tunes in their ears, but not the other. Could these external cues enhance learning? The researchers say, 'yes' noting that afterward, when asked to recall the tunes, participants made fewer errors in the sequence that was presented during sleep.

Does this mean you could, say, learn a new language while you sleep? Not really. The findings show you must study and learn the language first. But stimulation during sleep does seem to provide enhanced memory of a skill you have already recently learned. So you may be able to reinforce those language skills.

The team is thinking about ways their findings could apply to other types of learning as well, such as different types of motor skills, habits and behaviors.

Seems like the only skill I've improved on while sleeping is sleeping itself.

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.


[1] slow wave
Sleep is divided into two types: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM). NREM is further divided into four stages. Stage 3 and stage 4 are similar and both fall into the category of slow wave sleep. They are deep sleep stages.

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-rapid_eye_movement_sleep

Jul 6, 2012

Word of the Day, “Boy"

By Henry Hsu

This word is simple and easy. The definition of boy in the dictionary says:
a boy is a young male human, a child or a youth.

Actually boy is a profound and difficult if we use it as a compound word. Now I arrange some of them in sequence from simple to difficult to introduce and to see how much do you know about the boy.

Boy! Isn’t it hot!

1. Atta boy, used as an exclamation or interjection means excellent, marvelous, fabulous, etc. Usually being spoken from the senior to the junior, for example, Nina! When you found your son has done something great in school, never forget to praise him by saying “Atta boy”!

2. Soldier boy, it means when young men grow up to 20 years old or more, they need to serve in the army for a period of times for their country. When in serving, we call them “soldier boy” in Taiwanese we say: 阿兵哥. For example, soldier boys are usually released from barracks at weekend.

3. The boys in blue, I have 3 explanations for you to guess which is correct,
A. The boys wearing in blue clothes.
B. The boys suffering from melancholia.
C. The police. Usually used in the US, the people in blue uniform execute the enforcement power. (The same meaning as cop or the police.)

4. Boy wonder, this phrase has two meanings: one is a child prodigy or a child with high talent. The other is a promising young man who is very successful in every walk of life. For example, Jim is a boy wonder in our club, he is good at calligraphy.

5. Boy racer, something bad or illegal or speeding and joyriding on the street at night or midnight, especially endangering the public securities. For instance, it would be dangerous when you meet boy racers at night. You’d better keep them away.

6. Teddy boy (teddy bear, bower boy, wide boy), it refers to a noisy violent person who causes trouble by fighting, threatening, extorting, bully etc. Synonyms are hooligan, rascal and gangster. For example, a teddy boy broke the window of my car I could do nothing but accepted bad luck without complaint.

7. Boys’ town, it is a building in which many juvenile delinquents such as bully boys are kept to reform or to re-educate. (The same as reform school, reformatory, or youth detention center.)

8. Backroom boy, a man who does important work or has good idea to carry out a significant plan or project but is not seen or known about by the public. They are anonymous. (Also called think-tank, a group of intelligent elites or heroes behind the curtain.)

9. Blue-eyed boy, this means the man or boy in a group who is most praised and favored by his superiors or someone in authority. Therefore he receives a better treatment than others.(The same as fair-haired boy.) For example, Ching-Yang is always a blue-eyed boy in his superior’s eyes.

10. Boy night out, it refers to a gathering or a party held at night which is particular for male only, females are not allowed to attend. Any volunteer want to make a sentence with boy night out or girl night out? (Stag party or hen party)

11. One boy is a boy, two boys half a boy, three boys no boy. This phrase is from Chinese slang. Any one wants to make a wild guess what it means? This phrase means one monk carries a bucket of water with his hand to drink, two boys on their shoulders, 3 boys none of them is willing to carry so no water to drink.