A new study in the current issue of the journal Learning & Memory co-authored by Howard Nusbaum, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, offers insight into the way the brain processes information, suggesting that things learned while we are awake are absorbed and consolidated while we sleep. The study, detailed in a report on Washingtonpost.com, actually used video games in its testing methodology, as they taught students (mostly neophyte gamers) Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament (or more likely one of the sequels), demonstrating improvements in their performance after getting some zzzzs. After teaching the students the games in the morning, they tested their skills at a few different intervals, and the test subjects demonstrated a marked improvement after training, but a noticeable drop-off 12 hours after. Following a night's sleep, however, their scores ended up being higher than they were immediately following the training sessions, leading Nusbaum to say, "that sleep is not just a passive state when no information is coming in, and: "If we train you in the morning and come back at the end of the day, you forget some of what you learned. But if you sleep after that, it restores some of what you learned." Aside from the practical matter of improving your gaming, this theory can also apply to frivolous subjects like higher education, as the professor observes: "It could be the case that people who are pulling all-nighters are not doing themselves a favor."
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