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CRF Scholar Rebecca Spencer and Graduate Student Laura Kurdzeil Present Latest Findings on Sleep Study

Former CRF Family Research Scholar (’10-’11) and Assistant Professor of Psychology Rebecca Spencer, and her graduate researcher Laura Kurdzeil, presented the preliminary results of their latest study on the benefits of sleep on memory  for adults at the Society for Neuroscience's annual conference this week in Washington, D.C.


Unlike past studies, which show a positive link between sleep and major types of learning in young people, this study reveals that sleep did not have an effect for older participants.  There was no benefit of sleep on either motor skills or sequential learning for adults in the study between 51 and 70 years old.  Spencer and Kurdzeil attribute this to fragmented sleep patterns of older adults, who often wake up more frequently in the middle of the night.  Despite older adults getting more Stage 2 sleep, a key for memory creation, the fragmentation of sleep may interrupt memory processing. 


This study stems from Spencer’s work as a Family Research Scholar, where she developed several grant proposals to address the question of whether this age-related decline in sleep-dependent memory consolidation also extends to non-motor cognitive tasks, including emotional memory processing. Spencer, an active researcher, has several grant proposals pending with the National Institutes of Health, and American Federation for Aging Research, and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.


Kurdzeil, a doctoral student in the Psychology Department, is a recipient of a supplemental Family Research Travel Award for expenses associated with traveling to the Society for Neuroscience conference. 


For more information on the conference please visit its website:


You can read more about the findings of their latest study in the following publications:


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