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开学季必读:为什么睡觉是学生的头等大事

更新时间:2018-9-2 9:57:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why sleep should be every students priority
开学季必读:为什么睡觉是学生的头等大事

Jakke Tamminen has plenty of students who do that very studenty thing of staying up all night right before an exam, in the hope of stuffing in as much knowledge as they can. But “that’s the worst thing you can do”, the psychology lecturer at the UK’s Royal Holloway University warns them.

塔米宁(Jakke Tamminen)的很多学生都会做学生爱做的事,在考试前一天的晚上彻夜苦读,希望把尽可能多的知识装进脑袋里。但是这位英国皇家霍洛威学院的心理学讲师警告他们,"没有比这更糟糕的事情了。"

He should know. Tamminen is an expert on how sleep affects memory, specifically the recall needed for language. Sleep learning – another idea beloved of students, in the hope that, say, playing a language-learning recording during sleep would imprint itself into the brain subliminally and they’d wake up speaking Latin – is a myth.

塔米宁理应知道这一点。因为他是研究睡眠对记忆影响的专家,特别是记忆语言方面。睡觉学习法,也是学生们喜欢的一个想法,但他们希望只要在睡觉时播放语言学习录音,语言就会自动进入大脑,一觉睡醒以后就会说拉丁语了。这个想法简直是天方夜谭。

But sleep itself is essential for embedding knowledge in the brain, and the research of Tamminen and others shows us why that is.

但是睡眠确实对记忆知识非常重要。塔米宁以及其他人的实验向我们揭示了原因。

In Tamminen’s ongoing research project, participants learn new vocabulary, then stay awake all night. Tamminen compares their memory of those words after a few nights, and then after a week.

在塔米宁现在所做的研究项目中,参与者学习新词汇,然后整夜不睡。塔米宁在几个晚上后比较参与者对这些词汇的记忆情况,然后再比较一周后的记忆。

Even after several nights of recovery sleep, there is a substantial difference in how quickly they recall those words compared to the control group of participants who didn’t face sleep deprivation.

即使经过了几个晚上的睡眠恢复,实验组参与者回忆这些词汇的速度还是比没有被剥夺睡眠的对照组差了很多。

“Sleep is really a central part of learning,” he says. “Even though you’re not studying when you sleep, your brain is still studying. It’s almost like it’s working on your behalf. You can’t really get the full impact of the time you put into your studies unless you sleep.”

他说"睡眠是学习的重中之重,虽然你睡觉的时候没在学习,但你的大脑还在学习,就好像是在代你学习。如果不好好睡觉,你花时间学习的成果不会得到充分体现。"

Inside the sleeper’s brain

睡眠者的大脑内部

We’re standing in Lab Room 1 of Tamminen’s sleep lab, a sparsely decorated room with a bed, a colourful rug, and framed paper butterflies. Above the bed is a small electroencephalography (EEG) machine and monitor to detect activity in each research participant’s brain, via electrodes placed on the head. These measure not only activity in different regions of the brain (frontal, temporal, and parietal), depending on their placement on the head, but also muscle tone (through an electrode on the chin) and eye movement (through an electrode next to each eye).

我们站在塔米宁睡眠实验室的1号房间里,房间装修简单,仅一张床,一块彩色地毯,还有一些裱框的纸蝴蝶。床的上方是一个小的脑电仪和监视器,通过电极连接在参与与者的脑部,用来监测他们的大脑活动。通过不同位置的电极能测量大脑不同区域的活动(额叶,颞叶和顶叶),下颚处的电极还能测量肌肉张力,每只眼睛附近的电极能测量眼动。

Down the hallway is the control room, where researchers can see in real time which parts of each volunteer’s brain are being activated, for how long, and to what extent. It’s easy to tell when a volunteer is in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase, based on the activity in the E1 and E2 (eye 1 and eye 2) graphs.

走廊尽头是控制室,研究者能实时看到志愿参与者大脑里哪部分被激活,激活多长时间,以及激活到什么程度。基于眼1和眼2的图表,很容易看出志愿者何时处于快速眼动(REM)阶段。

But more critical to Tamminen’s current research – and to sleep’s role in language development more generally – is a non-REM phase of deep sleep known as slow-wave sleep (SWS). SWS is important for forming and retaining memories, whether of vocabulary, grammar, or other knowledge. The interaction of different parts of the brain is key here. During SWS, the hippocampus, which is good at quick learning, is in constant communication with the neocortex, to consolidate it for long term recall. So the hippocampus might initially encode a new word learned earlier that day, but to truly consolidate that knowledge – spotting patterns and finding connections with other ideas that allow for creative problem-solving – the neocortical system needs to get involved.

但是对塔米宁当前研究以及睡眠在语言学习中的作用,最关键的是对叫做慢波睡眠(SWS)的深度睡眠的研究。所谓慢波睡眠即是没有眼动的睡眠阶段。慢波睡眠对记忆的形成及保持十分重要,不管是词汇,语法还是其他知识都是如此。在此阶段,关键是大脑间不同部位的相互作用。在慢波睡眠阶段,擅长快速学习的海马体一直和新皮质交流,将其巩固为长时记忆。因此可能一开始是海马体处理当天较早学到的新词汇,但是要想巩固知识,即发现这些新知识的模式,再找出这个新知识模式与其他想法之间的关联,从而能创造性地解决问题,则需要新皮质系统参与进来。

This information expressway between the hippocampus and the neocortex is populated by sleep spindles – spikes in brain activity that are no more than three seconds long.

海马体和新皮质间的信息高速通道充满了睡眠纺锤波( sleep spindles),这是是一种不超过三秒的大脑震荡活动。

“Sleep spindles are somehow associated with linking new information with existing information,” Tamminen says. And the data from his research participants suggests that people with more sleep spindles have more consolidation of the words they have learned. (Read more about how you can learn in your sleep).

塔米宁说,"睡眠纺锤波一定程度上与新信息和已有信息的连接有关。"从测试的数据来看,睡眠纺锤波越多,能够巩固的已学词汇就越多。(阅读更多关于如何能在睡觉时学习)

While Tamminen focuses on slow-wave sleep, there’s a theory that REM sleep plays a role in language development too, through the dreaming that happens during this part of the sleep cycle. Research at the sleep and dreams lab at Canada’s University of Ottawa found that the brains of undergraduates dreaming in French were essentially able to make new connections with the language they were learning.

塔米宁专注于慢波睡眠时,有理论表明快速眼动睡眠同样有利于语言学习,这是通过发生在该睡眠循环时的做梦这一现象。加拿大渥太华大学睡眠与做梦实验室的研究表明,用法语做梦的本科生基本能够与他们正在学习的法语建立新的联系。

Dreams, after all, are more than simply a replay of what happens during the day. Research has suggested that the regions of the brain that manage logic (the frontal lobe) and emotion (the amygdala) interact differently during dreams, allowing for these imaginative new connections in the language learner. And students intensively studying the second language had more REM sleep. This gave them more time to integrate what they were learning while they slept – and better results during the day.

毕竟,做梦并不是简单重复白天发生的事情。研究表明大脑控制逻辑的区域(额叶脑)与控制情绪的区域(杏仁核)在做梦时相互作用不一样,这使得语言学习者能够建立充满想象力的新联系。深入学习第二外语的学生有更多的快速眼动睡眠,让他们在睡觉时有更多时间整合正在学习的东西,因此白天的学习成果会更好。

Nightly rhythms

每晚节拍

There’s a genetic component to how many sleep spindles we have. There’s also a genetic basis to our internal clocks, which tell us when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up. And adhering to these hard-wired cycles is necessary to reaching our peak cognitive performance.

睡眠纺锤波的数量多少有遗传因素的作用。至于告诉我们几点睡觉,几点起床的生物钟也是有遗传基础的。因此想要达到最好的认知表现,我们需要遵循这些由我们身体硬件决定了的循环周期。

Few people know more about this subject than Michael W Young, who in 2017 was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for his work on clock genes with two co-researchers. Young explains that for optimal functioning – whether at school, work, or other areas of life – “what you want to do is to try to recreate a rhythmic environment”.

关于这一话题,没有人比迈克尔‧扬(Michael W Young)知道的更多。扬2017年因其与其他两位研究者所做的有关时钟基因(clock gene)的研究共同获得了诺贝尔生理学或医学奖,扬解释了时钟基因的功能,不管是上班、上学还是生活的其他方面,"你想做的就是创造合拍的环境。"

For a person whose lifestyle, environment, or inherited sleep disorder leads to distorted sleep patterns, “a cheap first-line response” could be using blackout curtains at night or bright lights during the day to mimic natural light/dark cycles as much as possible.

如果一个人因为生活方式,环境或遗传原因导致睡眠紊乱,最便宜有效的方式就是晚上用遮光帘或者白天用明亮的灯光尽可能的模仿自然的昼夜循环。

Power naps

小睡充电

The circadian rhythm’s role in adult learning is unquestionable, but its importance may be particularly pronounced in childhood.

昼夜节律(circadian rhythm)对成年人学习的重要性毋庸置疑,但是其重要性可能在童年时期更为明显。

Children have more slow-wave sleep than adults – which may be one factor explaining how quickly kids learn, in both language and other areas. The child sleep lab at Germany’s University of Tuebingen investigates the role of sleep in consolidating children’s memory. Monitoring what happens in children’s brains during sleep, and how much information they retain before and after sleep, shows that sleep helps with accessing implicit knowledge (procedural memory) and making it explicit (declarative memory).

儿童的慢波睡眠比成年人更多,这可能也是儿童学习语言和其他知识更快的原因之一。德国蒂宾根大学的儿童睡眠实验室研究了睡眠对巩固儿童记忆的作用。他们监测儿童睡眠时大脑内的活动,以及睡觉前后记住了多少信息,研究结果表明睡眠有助于访问内隐记忆(程序记忆)并将其处理成外显知识(陈述记忆)。

Adults can also call upon this kind of information learned during the day. But as researcher Katharina Zinke explains, “sleep is doing that in a more efficient way in children".

成年人也能在睡眠中处理白天学习到的这类信息。但是研究员津凯(Katharina Zinke)解释道,"儿童睡眠处理效率更高。"

“The effects are stronger in early childhood because the brain is developing,” says Dominique Petit, the coordinator of the Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network, who has also explored the circadian rhythm in children. In practical terms, this means that “children need to sleep during the day to remember everything that they have to learn".

珀蒂(Dominique Petit)是加拿大睡眠与昼夜节律网络的协调员,并研究儿童昼夜节律。她说,"这种影响在年龄小的儿童身上比较明显,因为大脑正在发育。"此现象的实际意义即是,"儿童需要在白天睡觉来记住要学的东西"。

"Daytime naps in young children have been shown to be really important for vocabulary growth, generalisation of the meaning of words and abstraction in language learning," she says. "Sleep continues to be important for memory and learning throughout the lifetime, though.”

她说,"小孩白天小睡对语言学习中扩充词汇、归纳词义以及抽象化十分重要。其实睡眠在一生当中都对记忆和学习很重要。"

Not only does sleep help with accessing this information, it also changes the way this information is accessed. This makes brains more flexible at retrieving information (or able to access it in more ways). But it also makes them better at extracting the most significant parts of it.

睡眠不仅有助于获取信息,而且还能改变获取信息的方式,使大脑检索信息更为灵活(或者获取方式更多),并有助于提取信息最重要的成分。

“It’s actually an active process of strengthening and changing the memory trace,” Zinke says. “Memory gets transferred in a way that the most important information (the gist) is remembered.”

津凯说,"其实是增强及改变记忆痕迹的过程,记忆在这个过程发生了改变,让人记住的是最重要的信息,即信息的要领。"

Clearly, for children as well as adults, prolonged sleep isn’t a sign of laziness in a language learner. It’s critical for our brains’ connections and our bodies’ rhythms.

显然,不管是儿童还是成年人,对语言学习者来说,睡久一点儿并不是懒惰,睡得好对大脑沟通联系和身体节律都很重要。

So, following your next intense Duolingo session, it’s a good idea to sleep on it. You may be surprised the next morning by how much you’ve absorbed.

所以,下次上完高强度的多邻国(Duolingo)课程之后,最好睡一觉。第二天醒来之后,你可能会惊喜地发现竟然学会了这么多东西。

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