Resting consolidates learning

Short periods of rest at regular intervals happen in almost every Feldenkrais® class. These pauses are not provided for the recuperation but, instead, for reflection and integration. 

One aspect of what we classically referred to by this term, integration, is, in today’s scientific literature, called memory consolidation. There’s been much research about this recently, which is why we know, for instance, that sleep is essential to the process of incorporating new skills. 

Last week, the National Institute of Health reported on a study about “why taking short breaks from practice is key to learning.” When the researchers recorded the brain waves of subjects learning a typing task, they observed that parts of the brain, namely the sensorimotor, hippocampus, and entorhinal cortex, replay the same activity during subsequent periods of rest. That is to say, the researchers recorded a compressed, sped-up version of the same activity noted while the subjects were physically practicing in these parts of the brain when the participants were not doing anything. 

The more frequent and more prolonged — in terms of seconds and minutes — the replay periods, the more significant was the improvement in performance. What’s more, the wide-awake memory review process proved four times more effective in terms of consolidation than what happens overnight. 

I encourage you to check out the summary article on the NIH website for yourself. Just click here to read it.

Once again, research corroborates another aspect of Moshe’s method. Science is, indeed, catching up with us.

Tip of my hat to M. Cook for letting me know about this study. 

Suppose you’re interested in reading the original article, Consolidation of human skill linked to waking hippocampo-neocortical replay? In that case, it’s available without charge (thanks to the Open Access policy) at Cell Reports. Please click here to access it.

Feldenkrais Summer Camp is on for the end of July.  This year’s theme is Finding Balance on One Leg. If you’re up for a fun, engaging exploration of equilibrium and ready to improve your coordination, please click here to learn more and to sign up.

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