The idea of learning while we sleep has been around for almost a hundred years. It turns out that getting information while we sleep doesn’t appear to be a terribly successful way of learning. But all is not lost.
If we learn something and sleep on it, we do in fact process information and thus can retain and categorize information more effectively.
Now, researchers have determined that if a sound is experienced along with something that we want to remember, hearing that sound again helped recall the original experience. In addition, if that sound is heard while we sleep, it seems to cement the memory of the experience even more than simply re-hearing the sound in a waking state.
In other words, if you see a picture of a cow, and you hear a ticking clock, just hearing that ticking clock the next day will probably help you remember the cow. However, it you hear that same ticking clock sound while you’re sleeping, your ability to remember the picture of the cow will be improved greatly when you hear the ticking.
So, it appears that sonic branding, like I discussed last week, can even have a more powerful impact if those sounds can be heard while people sleep. This could create a powerful way to remember experiences if say, audio brands were interspersed in relaxing music that played while we slept.
It could also be used to design classroom experiences. Key points in a lecture could have musical notes or sounds as an accompaniment. Those sounds could be given to students in MP3 form so they can listen to those sounds when they study and sleep. They could replay those sounds later to help with recall.
I could see it used as well for training purposes. People do a certain task to certain musical tones. When they’re first learning, they can listen to those tones as they sleep.
What if operating rooms had musical sequences to help nurses, techs and surgeons remember pre-operative prepping procedures?
How could you see this research being used?