Scientific reasons behind “Voices” heard while you sleep

The findings might imply that basic knowledge can be learned while sleeping.
Even when you’re deep asleep, you’re more conscious of what’s going on around you than you know. According to new study, the human brain is always monitoring its environment, including digesting noises, to determine if you need to wake up; it may even allow you to learn while sleeping.
Manuel Schabus, an Austrian neurologist, and his colleagues sought to investigate what type of processing the brain could undertake when sleeping. While their adult test volunteers slept, the researchers played a tape. The audio had both familiar and strange voices saying several names, including the subject’s own. Whether the subject’s name was his or her own or anything else had no influence on brain activity. However, the familiarity of the voice made a significant difference.
The researchers used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor brain activity and discovered that one specific pattern of activity, known as the K-complex, differed depending on the familiarity of the voice. K-complexes are two-part spikes in brain activity that occur during sleep as a result of an external stimulation such as noise, light, or touch. The one suppresses brain activity to keep you sleeping, while the second analyses the data to determine if it is relevant enough to wake you up.
When sleeping individuals heard unknown sounds, their brains detected more and larger K-complexes than when they heard familiar ones. Unfamiliar voices also resulted in higher micro-arousals, a pattern of activity thought to reflect information processing during sleeping. “This suggests that the brain is evaluating whether a voice is familiar or unfamiliar in its unconscious state”, Schabus explained. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience yesterday.
This skill is most likely an evolutionary protection strategy, since familiar sounds may be safely tuned out to guarantee a pleasant night’s sleep, but strange voices may signify a threat to the vulnerable sleeper.
“At night unknown voices should not be talking to you”, Schabus said. “We could have expected individuals to wake up if our recordings had lasted beyond a single syllable”.
According to Thomas Andrillon, a neuroscientist at the Paris Brain Institute in France, this work builds on neuroscientist’s recent awareness that the sleeping brain is not fully separated from its environment even when the individual is nonresponsive. Schabu’s research on the involvement of K-complexes in these and other experiments helps to explain how the brain permits certain information to get through and be processed when the person is unaware.
“It’s quite a clever system that allows you to filter what’s important or not, and when it’s relevant, it will initiate a chain of processes aiding the processing of that information without requiring you to wake up and interrupt your sleep”, he explained. “K-complexes may be a critical process regulating how we sleep, assisting the brain in deciding whether we should sleep or wake up”.
The participants appeared to be learning as well as screening for potential hazards throughout the night. The researchers ascribed the less prominent K-complex reactions in the second half of the night to the strange sounds becoming more familiar via repetition. According to Schabus, this suggests that in some cases, it may be able to learn new knowledge while sleeping.
For years, it has been the fantasy of indolent students, but it has never truly worked. According to Schabus, as long as the information is generally straightforward, not very loud, and does not last too long, you should be able to learn without being consciously aware of it. For the time being, however, it would only be conceivable in a lab where technicians can continually monitor the subject’s slumber and turn off the stimulation if they begin to wake up.
“If you attempted that at home, you’d definitely wake up all the time, and it’d do more harm than good”, he explained.
According to Schabus, this study also demonstrates the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.
“Sleep is not only an unconscious state in which everything is filtered away”, he stated. “Because your brain is always monitoring and processing information, a good night’s sleep is required to recover from all of this activity”.

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