Take note, students: Mice that ‘cram’ for exams remember less

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Posted December 27, 2013
It’s been more than 100 years since German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus determined that learning interspersed with rest created longer-lasting memories than cramming, or learning without rest.

Yet it’s only much more recently that scientists have begun to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms for this phenomenon. In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, researchers examined the physical changes in the brain cells of mice while “training” their eyes to keep track of a moving image.

Researchers examined the horizontal optokinetic response, or HOKR, in mice to determine what rest interval was best suited to increasing their memory.

HOKR is what makes it possible for a rider in a train to visually track the moving scenery. While the process is unconscious, it involves frequent, minute eye movements.

Mice were fastened to a device that immobilized their heads and then were made to look at a revolving, checkered image that triggered the eye response. A high speed camera was used to determine when the tracking began and when it stopped.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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