Which sleep stage is most important for learning: REM or non-REM? Does sleep improve learning by enhancing skills while people snooze, or by cementing those skills in the brain so that they’re less likely to forget them? Do these processes occur every time someone sleeps, or only after they have learned something new?
A new study from Brown University found that plasticity and stabilization occur during different stages of sleep.
During non-REM (NREM) sleep, the visual areas of participants’ brains exhibited an E/I balance suggestive of increased plasticity. The pattern was found even among participants who did not partake in the visual learning tasks, which means that it occurs even in the absence of learning.