Sleeping on bad memories
From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss.
Sleep seems to help us sort out what sets off our emotions.
Jessica Payne of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center shed some light on that. She showed people pictures designed to get an emotional reaction, such as a car crash on a street, and had them remember the pictures.
She tested them 12 hours later, after a night of sleep or a day spent awake
Payne says people who had not slept forgot the emotion-laden part, such as the crashed car, and the background, such as the street, at about the same rate.
This was not true of people who did sleep.
``Sleep seemed to selectively consolidate for long-term memory only what was emotionally central about the scenes, and didn’t seem to care about the backgrounds.’’ (8 seconds)
The study in the journal Psychological Science was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Learn more at hhs.gov.
HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.
Last revised: May 7, 2011