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Nat Neurosci. 2003 Jul;6(7):697-8.

Sleep-dependent learning: a nap is as good as a night.

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Psychology Department, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


The learning of perceptual skills has been shown in some cases to depend on the plasticity of the visual cortex and to require post-training nocturnal sleep. We now report that sleep-dependent learning of a texture discrimination task can be accomplished in humans by brief (60- 90 min) naps containing both slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This nap-dependent learning closely resembled that previously reported for an 8-h night of sleep in terms of magnitude, sleep-stage dependency and retinotopic specificity, and it was additive to subsequent sleep-dependent improvement, such that performance over 24 h showed as much learning as is normally seen after twice that length of time. Thus, from the perspective of behavioral improvement, a nap is as good as a night of sleep for learning on this perceptual task.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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