Brain still active during sleep
The brain is still active and able to perform complex tasks while we are asleep, according to new research.
Scientists in Cambridge and Paris first asked volunteers to complete a word test, in which they were to press a button in their right hand when they heard a word for an animal and a button in their left hand when they heard a word for inanimate objects. Using an electroencephalogram (EEG), the researchers recorded the participants’ brain activity while they completed the test and were able to associate the participants’ actions with specific brain movements.
In the next part of the study, the participants were asked to repeat the word test—except this time while lying down in a dark room with their eyes closed. The researchers asked them to continue the word classification as they began to fall asleep. After the participants fell asleep, a new set of words was tested to ensure that the brain would have to work just as hard as it did at the start of the test.
The researchers found that although their responses became slower, the participants still continued to respond accurately while they were asleep. The study’s findings, published in the journal Current Biology, suggest that the human brain is more active during sleep than previously thought and could lead to further research on the capabilities of sleeping brains.