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PART II. Learning

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Learning During Sleep Eric Eich University of British Columbia

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INTRODUCTION sleep learning/i Index SLEEP LEARNING: METHODOLOGY AND PHENOMENOLOGY Sleep Factors ......... . EEG Activation During ~ . Sleep Specific Memory Item Factors ... . Following Item Presentation Methods of Item Presentation - Characteristics of the Target Items ~ , Task Factors .... Recal 1 v. Recognition ~ . ~ ~ ~ ~ Memory for Events Experienced During Sleep: Remembering With a nd Wi shout Awa renes s _ ~ Subject Factors . Heal th . , Capacity to Learn While Awake _ . . Suggestibility: Hypnotic Susceptibility and Learning Set DISCUSSION REFERENCES 4 8 13 13 14 18 18 19 24 24 25 26 29 35 37

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sleep learning/4 SLEEP LEARNING: METHODOLOGY AND PH£NOMENOLOGY . As Aarons (1976) has observed, whether or not learning during sleep occurs depends on an intricate interplay of numerous psychological and physiological variables. In this section, I survey a selective sample of such variables-- ones that, in my opinion, have the most promise of being important moderators of sleep learning. For ease of exposition, the specific variables to be considered are classified according to four general types: sleep, item, task, and subject. Sleep Factors EEG Activation During and Following Item Presentation The research of Simon and Emmons revealed that alpha activity during the presentation of a target item was a necessary condition for the later recollection of that item. Evidence also exists which suggests a strong association between memory performance and the both the level and duration of EEG wakefulness or activation patterns that follow item input. Evidence of this sort has been ! 1

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sleep learning/1 INTRODUCTION Is it possible for people to register and retain what is said in their presence while they sleep? If it is possible, is the learning that takes place during sleep efficient enough to be of practical as well as theoretical significance? These are the questions of chief concern in this paper. To address these issues, research dealing with a number of variables that may have an important influence on sleep learning is summarized in the second section of the paper, while in the third section, some tentative conclusions concerning the possibility and practicality of learning during sleep are offered' and prospects for future research are outlined. Much of the material covered in both of these sections has been culled from a remarkably thorough and trenchant review of the sleep learning literature by Aarons (1976), which I recommend to interested readers in the strongest possible terms. As will become apparent in the course of subsequent discussion, solid facts about sleep learning are scarce, and only one of the variables to be considered --the level of electroencephalographic (EEG) activation that accompanies or follows the presentation of a to-be-learned or target item--has to date been examined in an empirically exacting manner. Al though the present dearth of reliable data is unfortunate, it is also understandable. For many years following publication of the carefully controlled LEG experiments by Emmons and Simon (1956; Simon ~ Emmons 1956)' sleep learning was a dead issue. They

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sleep learning/2 demonstrated that verbal information presented during sleep was irretrievable upon awakening unless presentation coincided with alpha activity, an EEG indicator of arousal or wakefulness. Their negative results, in combination with a highly critical commentary (Simon ~ Emmons 1955) on the positive results that had been obtained by others (e.g., Fox & Robbins 1952; Leupa & Bateman 1952), caused most researchers in the United States and other Western nations to abandon the idea that people may be able to learn while they sleep. In more recent times, however, there has been a modest revival of interest in the possibility of sleep learning, owing to three important developments. First, a number of studies have shown that during slow wave (alpha free) sleep, subjects are able to make complex discriminations between repetitive auditory signals (e.g., Oswald et al. 1960), and to perform, when cued with appropriate sensory stimuli, motor responses which they had learned while awake (e.g., Okoma et al. 1966). One implication of these and related results (see Koulack & Goodenough 1976; Lehmann ~ Koukkou 1974) is that even during deep sleep, short-term storage of new information is possible, as is access to old information in long-tenm memory. Second, evidence from several sources (see Firth 1973; Goodenough 1978) suggests that habituation or conditioning of various physiological responses, such as heart rate and GSR, can occur during sleep, albeit at a slower rate than occurs during wakefulness. Since both habituation and conditioning represent forms of learning, this evidence implies that the inability to remember information presented during sleep may be attributable not to difficulties in storing the information, but rather, to a failure to retrieve the information on waking (Koukkou & Lehmann 1983; Koulack & Goodenough 1976~. Third, there have been numerous reports out of

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sleep learning/3 the Soviet Union and other Eastern countries of success in demonstrating sleep learning (see Hoskovec 1966; Rubin 1968, 1971~. Though there can be no doubt that learning is dramatically impaired during sleep (see Goodenough 1978; Oltman et al. 1977), these reports recommend a reappraisal of the conclusion that sleep learning is impossible, and raise a number of interesting questions concerning the conditions under which learning may occur. It is to these conditions that ~ now turn.

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sleep learning/4 SLEEP LEARNING: METHODOLOGY AND PHENOMENOLOGY - As Aarons (1976) has observed, whether or not learning during sleep occurs depends on an intricate interplay of numerous psychological and physiological variables. In this section, I survey a selective sample of such variables-- ones that, in my opinion, have the most promise of being important moderators of sleep learning. For ease of exposition, the specific variables to be considered are classified according to four general types: sleep, item, task, and subject. Sleep Factors EEG Activation During and Following Item Presentation ~ . . ~ _ The research of Simon and Emmons revealed that alpha activity during the presentation of a target item was a necessary condition for the later recollection of that item. Evidence also exists which suggests a strong association between memory performance and the both the level and duration of EEG wakefulness or activation patterns that follow item input. Evidence of this sort has been ! 1

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sleep learning/S supplied by a number of studies (e.g., Jus & Jus 1972; Koukkou & Lehmann 1968; Lehmann & Koukkou 1974; Oltman et al. 1977), one of which is described below for purposes of illustration. In the study by Koukkou and Lehmann (1968), short sentences were auditorily presented to subjects during slow wave (stage 2 or 3) sleep, and the duration of the EEG activation (alpha) pattern produced by the presentation of each sentence was measured. Upon awakening, the subjects completed a test of nominally noncued or "spontaneous" recall, which was succeeded by a test of old/new sentence-recognition memory. The results showed that the duration of EEG activation that followed the presentation of a given sentence was quite short (mean = 9 see) for sentences that were neither recalled nor recognized, significantly longer (mean = 26 see) for sentences that were recognized but not recalled, and longer still (mean = 165 see) for sentences that were spontaneously recalled verbatim (Koukkou Lehmann 1968/Table IlD). These data clearly demonstrate that post-sleep recollection of sentences presented during slow wave sleep was related to the duration of EEG activation that occurred after presentation. (In later work, Lehmann and Koukkou (1974) demonstrated an analogous correlation between memory performance and the level (i.e., EEG wave frequency) of post-presentation activation.) The fact that intermediate durations of activation were associated with successful recognition, but unsuccessful recall, suggests that recognition may be a more sensitive measure of memory for sleep-presented material than is spontaneous recall--a point to which I will return later. In an effort to provide a theoretical rationale for their results, Koukkou and Lehmann (1968) proposed that the duration (and level: see Lehmann ~

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One program that has actually been evaluated and found to be effective in military training is cooperative learning (Bagman & Hayes, 1985). Coopera- tive learning lends itself well to the military environment, which already emphasizes squad organization, cohesiveness building, and mutual interdepen- dence. Cooperative learning has been combined with individualized instruc- tion (Slavin, 1985) and with mastery learning (Mevarech, 1985), and the results have been more positive than for either method alone, so it may be that some form of cooperative learning could be incorporated with other instructional formats in military training. The usefulness of peer tutoring in my itery training would depend once again on practical considerations. If more experienced or higher-ranking individuals are available to provide one-to-one instruction to trainees. this can be very effective. In particular, peer tutoring may be effectively used as corrective instruction in mastery learning programs. The applicability of SALT to military training is uncertain. One study (Peterson. 1977) did evaluate SALT in Navy ROTC naval science classes and found results that were somewhat supportive of the method. However, the author notes that "many (students) would make fun of the (SALT) exercise before the lesson and distract those who were trying to concentrate. Some of the students thought the method was a hoax and generally were the trou- blemakers" (page 6). It is unclear that military trainees would take deep breathing and Baroque music seriously, although it would be worth experi- menting with. Beyond the particular methods. the principles outlined in this paper do apply just as well to military as to other instructional settings. Military training must emphasize well-organized. cognitively sensible instruction. it -31-

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must take into account students' level ~ of prior knowledge and skill=, it must provide incentives for learning, and it must provide adequate learning time. There is no magic in instruction. Producing ef fective. transportable instructional models is a matter of analyzing instructional objectives and mobilizing training resources to provide high levels of instructional qual- ity, appropriate level ~ of instruction, strong incentives deco learn, and adept quate time for learning. These are the raw material ~ of ef fective instruc- tion, and instructional design to meet any particular objective and setting is a question of engineerir~g available resources to provide them. . —32—

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