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Link between sleep and memory in older people

Narrator:       This is Science Today. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are trying to understand the role of sleep and memory processing. In particular, why it is that sleep is worse in older people and whether or not memory problems are one of the consequences of that. Postdoctoral fellow Bryce Mander says their study found that sleep was an important contributor to memory decline later in life.

Mander:         So, in other words if you had bad sleep, your memory was a lot worse. What it highlights is that there's the potential that if we can improve sleep, we could actually improve memory.

Narrator:       The study involved memory tests with word pairs and monitoring brain waves as the study participants slept.

Mander:         Older people show flatter, smaller waves. They also show worse memory (noise) and that these are in fact, associated with each other. The smaller, the flatter the wave, the worse their memory is. Now that we know that sleep is an important factor for memory, we can then try to see if we can target it to enhance it, to improve memory in older people.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.