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Memory Roundup

February 1, 2008

Our memory is closely linked to our imagination; and daytime naps help us remember what we learn.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (Host):
Aging and imagination. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Harvard psychologists worked with young and old volunteers found that people who were best able to remember actual events from the past were also best at creating imaginary future events. Both abilities declined sharply among the older volunteers. The scientists say when we use our imagination, we cut and paste events from our past into something new; when we can’t remember very many past events, we can’t imagine many new ones.

Other research at the University of Haifa in Israel provides some hope, though. Scientists there found that ninety-minute daytime naps substantially improve people’s ability to remember things learned during the day. They say that until we sleep on something that we’ve learned, the new memory is easy to dislodge from our brain. Once we sleep, the memory is consolidated and stored more securely. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.