A new study by Psychologists at the University of Jutland claims that having a break after learning something might help the brain to remember it.
Even a short rest might prove useful, the new research headed by Professor Jens Convolvulus suggests.
To ascertain whether memories were laid down during periods of conscious waking rest, researchers monitored parts of the brain thought to play a significant role in memory - the so-called "parts of the brain thought to play a significant role in memory".
Some subjects were shown groups of objects before being told to rest; others were shown the objects but not allowed to rest; yet others were shown the objects and then told to go to sleep; still others were allowed to go to sleep before being shown the objects in the first place; and a final group, the "control group", consisted of 6 people whose only involvement in the experiment was that their names were picked at random from the local telephone directory.
Researchers used auto-magnetic telekinetic resonance technology, isolectric mnemonic shadowing, the Professor's own Architectonic Resilience Shuttle Encephalography, big white cabinets with lots of wires and flashing bulbs, complicated diagrams, and sheets of A4 paper, to estimate brain activity and rest during estimated periods of brain activity and rest.
'Subjects were generally quite bad at remembering the grouped objects, but we found that those who had been allowed to rest while awake were no worse at remembering the grouped objects than those who had not been allowed to rest while awake', reports Professor Convolvulus in the Journal of Experimental Guesswork. This suggests that conscious rest cannot be said not to have a possible role in memory.'
'Your brain may well be working for you, even while you are resting. This would seem to corroborate the findings of Ningo & Schytmann in 1996' concludes the Professor. It was Ningo & Schytmann who, after a study involving the brains of decapitated cats and silhouettes of mice and garden birds, posited that the human mind is like a "glistening jellyfish". The jellyfish sails the ocean by day, gathering its food, just as the human brain garners memories. At night, the jellyfish rests with rippling fins beneath barnacled coral shelves, shedding the plankton it does not need, and consuming those it does. Similarly, while we rest, our brains sort through the day's events, and only keep those deemed significant.
'Our study at Jutland is an exciting confirmation of the "glistening jellyfish" hypothesis of Ningo & Shytmann', enthuses Professor Convolvulus. 'Even conscious rest can aid memorisation it seems. Perhaps the most interesting result of our study is the finding that memorisation was least impaired by conscious rest if the objects to be memorised were particularly memorable, - such as a nude bishop, or a castle made of hairy rubber, or a short movie of a theatre play satirising international terrorism in which Aladdin and Widow Twankey are blown up by a suicide pantomime cow.'
Lazy students at Jutland, or elsewhere, who may have been seeking some simple confirmation from Professor Convolvulus that rest is more efficacious than effort, must be dismayed, however, by the finding that those subjects who slept through the whole experiment were no better at remembering the grouped objects than the control group from the telephone directory who, when contacted by research assistant Ulrika Nichazoff, were unable to recall any objects at all.
So sleeping through lectures is still not an option!