Remember to take a break – on Mondays too

We, startuppers, seem to be always fire-fighting. Everyday there are new challenges to tackle, waves to ride and demons to slay. While entrepreneurship is exhilarating, many of us forget the importance of taking breaks. Well, here is news for those of you who forget — breaks can help boost memory, a new study has found.

Scientists at the Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, found that taking a rest break while awake can help strengthen memories. Earlier studies had shown that memory consolidation happened during sleep, but not during wakeful rest.

Lights of ideasThe study, which focused on memory consolidation — the period when a memory is stabilized after it is initially created, or encoded, was done by researchers Arielle Tambini, Nicholas Ketz and Lila Davachi. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to gauge activity in the hippocampus and cortical regions of their subjects.

The subjects were first shown images of a human face and a scene. They were then asked to take rest but stay awake. They were not told that their memory of these images would be tested later. The researchers measured the subjects’ brain activity during the task and during the rest period. Researchers found that while resting after the task, there was a significant correlation between brain activity in the subjects’ hippocampus and cortical regions that were also active during the initial encoding of each stimulus pair.

“Our data show enhanced functional connectivity between the hippocampus and a portion of the lateral occipital complex (LO) during rest following a task… These results demonstrate the importance of post experience resting brain correlations for memory for recent experiences,” the researchers conclude in their report.

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The findings that expand our understanding of how memories are boosted appear in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.

Assistant Professor Lila Davachi explained to Futurity: “Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned.

“Your brain is working for you when you’re resting, so rest is important for memory and cognitive function. This is something we don’t appreciate much, especially when today’s information technologies keep us working round-the-clock.”

So, startuppers, take that coffee break and just switch off for a while.

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