Once the physical body is in an unconscious state, the brain continues to work tediously for the keep alive. Later, it was revealed that brain activity related to sensory processing even continued during sleep.
Recently, a team of researchers from the University of Salzburg conducted an experiment on 17 volunteers. They tried to determine the brain’s ability to extract and to process information at night.
The results would have shown that once asleep, the brain not only stayed on the lookout for any external threatbut he also continued to assimilate new data.
Don’t underestimate sleeping water
Responders were exposed to their own names and two unknown first names during the NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement). The appellations were pronounced by two types of voices, one familiar (VF) and the other not (VNF). Subsequently, the volunteers were subjected to a polysomnography for’record their brain activity during the night.
During NREM sleep, the unfamiliar voices triggered waves named K complex. They were accompanied by major disturbances in the cerebral activity of the volunteers, in particular micro-awakenings. These reactions suggest that the brain was entering a mode of sentinel treatment. More simply, he remains asleep while retaining the ability to respond to relevant stimuli.
Unknown channels trigger an alarm
Unlike VNFs, brain disturbances generated by the familiar voices were much less substantial and remained constant all night. This would therefore mean that the VNFs attracted more attention from the brain, because they could represent a potential hazard. Manuel Schabus has also declared that “Unknown voices should not speak to you at night, as they set off an alarm. »
However, over the rehearsals, the brain response to unfamiliar voices began to evolve. Indeed, as the night progressed, the K complexes triggered by the VNFs decreased. Thus, not only would the brain have analyzed new information, but it would also have learned lessons. According to the researchers, the repetition of the unknown noise, once deemed harmless, has attenuated previous responses to this stimulus.
“K-complexes could be the key mechanism that determines how we sleep, helping the brain decide whether we should stay asleep or wake up. »
Manuel Schabus, cognitive neuroscientist from the University of Salzburg