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You Can Learn While You Sleep, Study Suggests

Last Updated: August 27, 2012.

Participants reacted to information given as they slept, after waking.

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- People may be able to learn while they sleep, according to a new study.

Israeli researchers played tones followed by certain odors to people who were sleeping. The participants started sniffing when they heard the tones alone -- even when there was no odor present -- both during sleep and when they were awake.

The results show that people can learn new information while they sleep, and this can unconsciously affect their behavior when they're awake, said the team at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The study was published Aug. 26 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Researcher Anat Arzi plans to continue investigating brain processing in altered states such as sleep and coma.

"Now that we know that some kind of sleep learning is possible we want to find where the limits lie -- what information can be learned during sleep and what information cannot," Arzi said in an institute news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers an overview of sleep.

SOURCE: Weizmann Institute of Science, news release, Aug. 26, 2012