Replaying memories while people are awake leaves their memories subject to tinkering. But reactivating memories during sleep protects them from interference, researchers in Germany and Switzerland report online January 23 in Nature Neuroscience.
The finding shows that the brain handles memories differently during sleep than while awake, says Sara Mednick, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego who was not involved in the research. Armed with this new knowledge, she says, therapists may be able to destabilize traumatic memories and overwrite the bad memories with good ones, then solidify the new memory with a nap.
Wired: Sleeping Protects Memories From Corruption
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