Sleep is the secret which helps us preserve memories. When we reach the deep sleep stage, our brain starts unraveling some mechanisms which stock our memories and bring them out later. However, researchers have discovered this process no longer works properly in older brains, explaining why old people start forgetting instead of remembering.
Brainwaves are no longer synced during sleep in old age
Deep sleep coincides with the syncing of both fast and slow brainwaves, which helps us collect all the memories gathered during the day and preserve them in a safe place. Therefore, the brain memorizes events and facts over the night to bring them back the next day. However, this process slows down with age.
The older we get, the harder it is for slow-moving brainwaves to sync with the faster ones. Therefore, instead of gathering memories overnight, older people start forgetting things as easily as they picked them up in the first place. Researchers developed a study on this phenomenon, which was published in the journal Neuron.
“The mistiming prevents older people from being able to effectively hit the save button on new memories, leading to overnight forgetting rather than remembering,” explains Matthew Walker, neuroscience and psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley.
Sleep can also be a solution to memory loss
While performing the study, researchers also discovered which region of the brain is responsible with memory storing. This area is situated in the frontal lobe of the brain, and is called the medial frontal cortex. Scientists found out that a higher degree of atrophy in this region correlates with a higher disruption in the syncing of the brainwaves.
This study brings out a great discovery, as it’s the first time when researchers identify a biological mechanism which is a direct sufferer of aging. Since sleep is one of the main culprits for forgetting, we can find effective therapy methods to prevent this from happening.
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