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Naps May Help Babies Retain Memories, Study Finds

Jan 13, 2015
TIME Health
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Taking naps after learning new information may help increase a baby’s memory, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on tests of six- and 12-month-old babies to see how they retained memories, using a puppet with a removable mitten attached to a bell. Researchers repeated a sequence of actions using the contraption, several times, before the infants took naps of varying lengths.

Those who took naps that lasted longer than 30 minutes were more likely to remember how the device worked than babies who napped for only short periods after the lesson, the New York Times reported. Sleeping has long been tied to improving memory among humans. A recent study by researchers in Montreal found that children who get a good night's sleep perform better in math and languages. So it makes sense that the benefits of sleep would also help infants.

Study author Sabine Seehagen of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany told U.S. News and World Report it was “quite unlikely” that the babies who didn’t nap simply didn’t remember the information because they were tired. Rather, it’s likely that the actual act of sleeping helped the babies to retain the new knowledge.

[NYT]

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