Coffee breaks and screen breaks aid memory
Taking a break after learning something you remember it, scientists claim. Scientists have always known that sleeping helps consolidate memory by allowing your mind to sift through recently gained knowledge and file it in the brain. But this new research suggests that even a short rest or break while conscious could help it sort and retain information. The findings by New York University, which appear in the latest issue of the journal Neuron, expand our understanding of how memories are boosted.It is also could help explain why we remember some knowledge in exquisite detail but forget others almost immediately. “Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned,” said Dr Lila Davachi, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science. To determine if memory consolidation occurred during periods of conscious rest while awake, the researchers imaged parts of the brain known to play a significant role in memory, the hippocampus and cortical regions. Titled “Your brain wants you to tune out other tasks so you can tune in to what you just learned,” the experiment tested subjects’ associative memory by showing them pairs of images containing a human face and an object, such as a beach ball, or a human face and a scene, such as a beach, followed by periods of “awake rest”. Subjects were not informed their memory for these images would later be tested, but, rather, were instructed to rest and simply think about anything that they wanted, but to remain awake during the resting periods. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to gauge brain activity during the task and during the ensuing rest period. The researchers found that during rest, the areas of the brain were just as active
as they were when they were learning the task – especially if the task was particularly memorable. Also, the greater the correlation between rest and learning the greater the chance of remembering the task in later tests. “Your brain is working for you when you’re resting, so rest is important for memory and cognitive function,” Dr Davachi said. “This is something we don’t appreciate much, especially when today’s information technologies keep us working round-the-clock.”Researchers have discovered that the mind keeps most memories for just a day but then at night acts like a film editor sifting through the “video clips” before transferring the best bits to long term storage in our own movie archive. Experiments in humans and mice show that memories are first stored in the hippocampus, a sea horse shaped part of the central brain, before being “replayed” and then being filed in the outer neocortex, otherwise known as grey matter. news from telegraph.co.uk – A coffee break is a daily social gathering for a snack and short downtime practiced by employees in business and industry. The Pan American Coffee Bureau popularized the term in the United States in 1952, but it has become widespread in the modern world and occurs whether or not participants actually drink coffee. The coffee break corresponds with the Commonwealth terms “elevenses”, “morning tea”, “tea break”, or even just “tea”. However people outside the United States increasingly use the term “coffee break”.An afternoon coffee break, or afternoon tea, sometimes occurs as well. The coffee break allegedly originated in the late 19th century in Stoughton, Wisconsin, with the wives of Norwegian immigrants. The city celebrates this every year with the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival. In 1951, Time noted that “since the
war, the coffee break has been written into union contracts”. The term subsequently became popular through a Pan-American Coffee Bureau ad campaign of 1952 which urged consumers, “Give yourself a Coffee-Break — and Get What Coffee Gives to You.” An alternative legend of the advertising world credits John B. Watson’s work with Maxwell House for helping to popularize coffee breaks. Coffee breaks usually last from 10 to 20 minutes and frequently occur at the end of the first third of the work shift. In some companies and some civil service, the coffee break may be observed formally at a set hour; in some places a “cart” with hot and cold beverages and cakes, breads and pastries arrives at the same time morning and afternoon, or an employer may contract with an outside caterer for daily service. Gatherings for coffee breaks often take place away from the actual work-area in a designated cafeteria, tea room or outdoor area. As well as a chance for sustenance, the coffee break provides time for gossip and small talk, or a time to smoke a cigarette (thus the alternate term “smoke break”. Australians and New Zealanders may also refer to this break from work (particularly manual work) as smoko). Coffee breaks give workers a chance to wind down slightly and “re-group” for the remaining work of the day. More generally, people can use the phrase “coffee break” to denote any break from work in any arena; popular culture often portrays housewives as taking a coffee break in their kitchens. Celebrity magazines use the term “coffee run” to describe people going for a short coffee break in the morning at a nearby cafe. In some companies a mock carpet rule is used in order to remind colleagues not to discuss work in the tea room.
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