Your Brain Can “Classify” Words While You’re Asleep, Wow

September 12, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

A new study in Current Biology proves our brains can still kind of decipher words while we’re asleep. For the experiment, scientists had participants classify words as either plants or animals while wearing an EEG to record brain activity. For each word, subject tapped a button with either their right or left hands to indicate to which category the word belonged.

Once asleep, a new list of words was tested on participants to ensure that the brain had to work out the meaning of the words before classifying them using the buttons.

Their brain activity showed they continued to respond accurately, the researchers said, although it happened more slowly.

At the time, the participants were completely motionless and unaware.

Sid Kouider of Paris’ Ecole Normale Superieure told the BBC: “This explains some everyday life experiences such as our sensitivity to our name in our sleep, or to the specific sound of our alarm clock, compared to equally loud but less relevant sounds.”

Koudier says we can even complete simply arithmetic equations in our sleep, but that scientists exploring this realm should be careful to not impinge on necessary rest for people who might be eager to do things even when they sleep. “Research focusing on how to take advantage of our sleeping time must consider what is the associated cost, if any, and whether it is worth it,” he said. (Images: WikipediaRelaxingMusic)