Print 18 comment(s) - last by macca007.. on Jan 31 at 3:00 AM

Slow waves are generated by the middle frontal lobe, and as this region deteriorates with age, the elderly tend to lose the ability to experience long REM sleep

University of California, Berkeley, scientists have found a connection between the amount of sleep one gets in their old age and the quality of their memory.

The UC Berkeley team, led by Matthew Walker, believes that forgetfulness in old age may be attributed to a lack of deep, non-rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.

According to the study, the slow brain waves produced during deep REM sleep help move memories from the hippocampus (short-term memory storage in the brain) to the prefrontal cortex (long-term memory in the brain) while we are young. But as we grow older, memories tend to get trapped in the hippocampus because we receive less REM sleep.

Also, these slow waves are generated by the middle frontal lobe, and as this region deteriorates with age, the elderly tend to lose the ability to experience long REM sleep.

“What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older – and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,” said Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley.

The study took a look at 18 healthy young adults in their 20s and 15 healthy older adults in their 70s. Before going to bed, all participants learned 120 word sets. They then went to sleep while an electroencephalographic (EEG) machine measured their brain waves.

In the morning, all participants were tested on their word sets once again while both functional and structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans were conducted.

The team found that the elderly participants had a 75 percent lower quality of deep sleep than the younger crowd, and their memory with the word sets was 55 percent lower too. The study noted that the younger participants had a longer deep sleep, which helped with the memory sets.

Source: UC Berkeley

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Not Significant
By Oyster on 1/29/2013 10:49:45 AM , Rating: 3
The study took a look at 18 healthy young adults in their 20s and 15 healthy older adults in their 70s.

Someone's research money definitely went down the drain. A sample size (for each group) of less than 30 is NOT statistically significant. Didn't expect this from a Berkeley study!

RE: Not Significant
By Sivar on 1/29/2013 11:50:56 AM , Rating: 2
Nearly any sample size can be statistically valid. It depends on the target confidence level, though it's usually 80% or higher.

RE: Not Significant
By Asetha on 1/29/2013 12:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
A confidence interval of 80% is well below accepted practice of two standard deviations.

The smaller the sample size, the less statistical significance can be inferred. A regression model would likely throw data points all over the place.

RE: Not Significant
By Netscorer on 1/29/2013 1:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
Whoa, English please.

RE: Not Significant
By Basilisk on 1/29/2013 1:28:35 PM , Rating: 2
Translation: The study results are interesting enough to justify further exploration. The small sample didn't wast money; it was, essentially. a prototype study IMO.

Often small samples are run with limited funds in order to garner Big Bucks for broader or more in depth follow-up studies. And, that's the way I'd like the research funds to be spent: prototyping, analysis, justification.

RE: Not Significant
By maugrimtr on 1/30/2013 10:31:08 AM , Rating: 2
The sample size was also suitable for another reason - there are limited variables. Old people have poorer memories than young people. This has been an established fact since forever so it does not require a massive population. The smaller population was sufficient to prove broad differences between the two, i.e. for a pre-existing (also well studied) theory that REM sleep influences long term memory.

RE: Not Significant
By MrBlastman on 1/30/2013 11:16:39 AM , Rating: 2
Dr. Peter Venkman would disagree!

It isn't the quantity of research students that you have, but the quality of them. And attractiveness. And willingness to go out to dinner with you after a study.


What type of sleep is it then?
By MZperX on 1/29/2013 12:02:13 PM , Rating: 4
The UC Berkeley team, led by Matthew Walker, believes that forgetfulness in old age may be attributed to a lack of deep, non-rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep

Is it REM or non-REM sleep? The article uses both so it's confusing. Also, correlation != causation.

By Silver2k7 on 1/29/2013 1:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
there is a dietary supplement called ORMUS or orbitally rearanged monatomics.. wich supposedly makes gamma and even some delta brainwaves while you are awake.

if this could help in anyway to improve memory im not qualified to say :)

By SRHelicity on 1/30/2013 12:41:02 AM , Rating: 3
I think the author of this article means NREM sleep, not REM sleep. Typically, REM sleep is not "deep" sleep -- the "deep" sleep is NREM. Tiffany incorrectly used REM a bunch of times in this article...

Did they test young adults with smaller REM sleep.
By Chudilo on 1/29/2013 11:56:53 AM , Rating: 4
Did they test young adults with a smaller amount of REM sleep? Did that have any effect? Otherwise all they got was that older people remember less things (Dugh). Lack of REM sleep is just another thing they noticed. One does not necessarily have anything to do with the other.
This is a pretty basic idea here.

By ShieTar on 1/30/2013 11:12:56 AM , Rating: 2
That would be a valid comment, except for the fact that the correlation between deep sleep and memory transfer is already known and proven.

You can test this yourself. Memorize something, and then get horribly drunk before going to sleep. Try to remember whatever you memorized on the day after.

correlation != causation
By tynopik on 1/29/2013 1:43:33 PM , Rating: 3
without looking at the actual study, the article made it sound stupid

So, young people get more REM sleep and have better memory while older people get less REM sleep and have worse memory.

that's just as valid as:

Young people can run a mile in less than 10 minutes and have better memory while older people can't run a mile in less than 10 minutes and have worse memory.

therefore memory is clearly correlated with athletic ability

RE: correlation != causation
By ShieTar on 1/30/2013 11:07:36 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, the functional relationship that transfer from short-term to long-term memory is related to deep sleep phases has been established. As is the general fact that memory capabilities decrease from a certain age. Thus the measured and reported relationship between age and deep sleep phases is fully sufficient for the described conclussions.

Also, the inequation "correlation != causation" is not correct, as correlation and causation are not logically exclusive. A correct notation would be "correlation <= causation".

Not exactly real convincing
By Beenthere on 1/29/2013 6:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
I conducted some sleep studies and found that elderly people can achieve deep sleep more easily if they have 6 shots of whiskey a 1/2 hour before bed time. I only tested this on 25 seniors but their deep stage sleep results were improved in 100% of those in the study.

RE: Not exactly real convincing
By ShieTar on 1/30/2013 11:09:58 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, large amounts of alcohol prevent deep sleep very efficiently. Did you have 6 shots of whiskey 1/2 hour before writing your test report?

RE: Not exactly real convincing
By macca007 on 1/31/2013 3:00:38 AM , Rating: 1
I beg to differ, Back in my clubbing days of getting shitfaced I had some of the best sleep ever, Was lucky to wake up the next day at all. If you have enough alcohol it will knock you out no problem, Geez I remember one time being woken up on a public footy oval by a street sweeper truck driver. Where I fell is where I slept like a log until someone checked to see if I was dead or alive ;)
Ahhh fond memories.
P.S. I don't touch the shit AT ALL these days too old to put up with the hangovers. I remember everything about the night out all the way up to walking off the footpath away from view so I could throw up, then remember staggering to oval after that I guess I decided to sleep on the oval.

Clint Eastwood? (Picture at top)
By evolveNow on 1/29/2013 2:47:04 PM , Rating: 3
What in the world does this have to do with Clint Eastwood? Are you making a political suggestion?

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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