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How your brain actually makes decisions while you sleep...

Stashed in: Science!, Decisions, Brain, Sleep

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In research published in Current Biology, we went one step further to show that complex stimuli can not only be processed while we sleep but that this information can be used to make decisions, similarly as when we’re awake.

Our approach was simple: We built on knowledge about how the brain quickly automates complex chores. Driving a car, for example, requires integrating a lot of information at the same time, making rapid decisions and putting them into action through complex motor sequences. And you can drive all the way  home without remembering anything, as we do when we say we’re on “automatic pilot.”

When we’re asleep, the brain regions critical for paying attention to or implementing instructions are deactivated, of course, which makes it impossible to start performing a task. But we wanted to see whether any processes continued in the brain after sleep onset if participants in an experiment were given an automatized task just before.

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