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May 1, 2020

How sleep and classical music could improve test scores

Lack of sleep is not unusual for college students, especially when studying for a test. But guess what, you might study better while sleeping, thanks to Beethoven and here’s why. Baylor University researchers with funding from the National Science Foundation have discovered that college students who listened to classical music during a computer-interactive lecture and then later during sleep improved test scores. The team recruited 50 college students. During the self-paced, computer-interactive lecture, soft selections from Beethoven, Chopin and Vivaldi were played on a computer. That night in Baylor’s sleep lab, the team monitored students’ sleep patterns using EEG. Once in deep sleep, depending on what group they were in, they either heard the same classical music or white noise for 15 minutes during deep sleep. The team found that the targeting memory reactivation or TMR makes it possible to reactivate and strengthen existing memories of lecture materials in a deep sleep. During the exam the next day, the TMR of classical music more than doubled the likelihood of passing the test when compared to the group who heard white noise. Unfortunately, the effect didn’t last long and won’t help with that final exam at the end of the year. But the team thinks benefits might be longer lasting if the music was repeated across multiple nights-perhaps reactivating and strengthening memories for the long haul. Maybe even right on through those final exams.

Credit: National Science Foundation

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