The Circadian Rhythm and Sleep in Psychology

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The circadian rhythm is the daily cycle of being awake and asleep. It refers to the changes of biological processes in the body on a 24- hour basis. These biological processes include body temperature, release of hormones, and brain waves. When most people hear circadian rhythm, they generally think it applies to biology. They are not wrong in thinking this, but they overlook the importance the circadian rhythm has from a psychological standpoint.
During the sleep cycle of the circadian rhythm, the body resets itself. Sleep is a way for the body to recharge and get energy needed to perform the daily activities the next day. Many psychologists have suggested that sleep plays an important role in the consolidation of memory. I think that this is an important theory. The neurons in the brain are always conducting electrical impulses and are constantly sending information to the brain. While we are awake, there is much going on in the brain. The brain is constantly sending impulses and receiving impulses everywhere from our internal and external world. When we sleep, are body, for the most part, is inactive. The brain is not taking in nearly as many impulses as it did while being awake. This means that the brain is relatively quiet, and can focus on converting short- term memory into long- term memory. The brain is not taking in a lot of information, which means that the brain can focus on memory consolidation. In an article by Lisa Marshall, a professor at the University of L├╝beck, Germany, she reviews evidence that suggests sleep enhances the encoding and consolidation of memories that occurs in the hippocampus.
There is only evidence that sleep plays a key role in memory consolidation. Because of this, the above ideas are in theory and further testing of what goes on from a neurological standpoint is needed. One possible way of testing this would be to measure the electrical activity in the brain while someone is asleep. However, with this testing idea it would still be difficult to tell if memory consolidation is effected by sleep.

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This page contains a single entry by will3797 published on October 23, 2011 1:10 PM.

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