Learning while asleep – a dream come true?
Post written by Jeanne Le Bihan
To most of us, learning something while being asleep sounds like science fiction. However, the team from The Vocabulary Trainer (a mobile app dedicated to helping students learn new languages) has recently launched a new learning mode making sleep learning a reality.
Based on research by the sleep learning laboratory of the University of Zürich, this new function uses the first NREM sleep phase to stimulate the brain and archive recently-learned words in your long-term memory.
While we sleep, our memories are moved from our short-term memory into the long-term memory, located in our prefontral cortex. This usually takes place between 20 and 30 minutes after falling asleep. The Zürich research team has shown that not only is the brain receptive to audio stimuli during this sleep phase, but it is even more effective at storing information (in this case vocabulary) in the long-term memory than while awake!
The Vocabulary Trainer sleep learning function saves the 60 last words learned on the app and plays them on audio loop during the NREM phase. This revolutionary learning mode is now giving language learners worldwide an opportunity to save a whole lot of hours of vocabulary study.
“Are there any risks?” you may ask. Absolutely not! EEG analysis in the sleep laboratory showed no sign of interference with sleep quality and anyone can try it. The only obstacle that may arise would come from an individual’s noise sensitivity while asleep, which varies greatly from person to person. Anyone who finds him or herself waking up during sessions should lower the volume. Particularly sensitive people may wake up even at very low volumes, in which case, sleep learning may not be for them.
One last good reason to try the app : each learning session will help researchers improve and deepen their understanding of sleep learning. The anonymous data from sleep learning sessions will be shared with the Zurich team. You will learn more and they will learn more : a complete double-win!
You can try the Vocabulary Trainer here:
web version: http://www.languagecourse.net/
For teachers & schools: http://www.languagecourse.net/en/vocabulary-trainer.php?feature=new_teacher