Poster D136, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Sleep On It – The Impact of Problem Reactivation during Sleep on Problem Solving
Kristin Grunewald1, Samuel Osburn1, Katherine George1, Ken Paller1, Mark Beeman1; 1Northwestern University
Numerous scientific breakthroughs have been associated with sleep including Otto Loewi’s experiment that demonstrated neurons communicate via neurotransmitters and Dmitri Mendeleyev’s organization of the periodic table. Additionally, several experiments have demonstrated enhanced problem solving or greater insight into a problem’s structure after sleep compared to similar periods of wake (e.g. Sio et al., 2003; Wagner et al., 2005). However, the mechanism for sleep’s facilitation of problem solving remains unknown. We hypothesize that the reactivation of the problems during slow-wave sleep underlies the facilitation. To test this hypothesis, we employed targeted memory reactivation (TMR) to selectively reactivate specific problems during sleep. Participants completed an evening session in the lab where they attempted to solve puzzles. Each puzzle was paired with a unique sound that played throughout the solving attempt. Participants then took a device home that monitored their sleep and, when they were in slow-wave sleep, played some of the sounds that were associated with their unsolved puzzles. In the morning, participants returned to the lab and reattempted all puzzles that they did not solve the prior evening. Preliminary results suggest that in the morning participants were more likely to solve puzzles whose paired sound had been played overnight than puzzles whose paired sound had not been played. This result supports our hypothesis that the reactivation of problems during slow-wave sleep enhances problem solving.
Topic Area: THINKING: Problem solving