Study of Pink Noise
Research conducted in March 2017 reveals that deep sleep is important for the purposes of memory consolidation especially in adults that are a bit older. However, individuals in their middle ages tend to experience a significant decrease in deep sleep. A fact that scientists believe contributes to memory loss in old age. Gentle sound stimulation when properly synchronized to the brain waves’ rhythm greatly improves the ability of an older adult to sleep deeply. Furthermore, it improves their ability to remember some words and score well in a memory exam.
Example of Pink Noise
Dr. Phyllis Zee who is a professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a sleep specialist in Northwestern Medicine said the sound stimulation technique is a safe, simple and innovative approach to improving the health of the brain in older adults. She added that pink noise is a potential tool for improving the memory of older adults in society as well as significantly reducing memory loss that is usually associated with old age.
Past research had indicated that pink noise during deep sleep has the potential of improving memory consolidation in young individuals. However, the same research was yet to be conducted in adults who are older.
The study was conducted on thirteen participants, all of whom were of the age of 60 years or older. The participants had their recruitment done at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center located at Northwestern.
The participants in the study were all subjected to an overnight acoustic stimulation as well as a sham stimulation. The two forms of stimulation were identical with regard to the procedure followed. However, participants reported that they failed to hear any kind of noise while asleep during the entire sham stimulation session.
The participants were subjected to a memory test both at night and in the next morning after undergoing the sham and acoustic stimulation sessions. The ability to recall by the participants generally improved by a small percentage after the sham stimulation on the test that was carried out in the morning. Nonetheless, the improvement on average was thrice following stimulation by the pink noise.
Each and every brain wave/ oscillation slows down to approximately 1 oscillation per second during deep sleep compared to the 10 oscillations per second experienced during periods of wakefulness.
An algorithm which delivers sound during a slow wave oscillation’s rising portion was developed by a study coauthor called Giovanni Santostasi. It is this stimulation that increases the neurons’ activity synchronization.
On conclusion of the sound stimulation the slow waves for the older participants increased significantly during sleep.
The extent of slow wave sleep improvement was accurately related to the degree of memory enhancement. This means that slow wave sleep is crucial to memory regardless of age.
Dr. Phyllis Zee confirmed that the gentle sound stimulation technique is potentially a viable solution specifically for long-term use in the home. This is despite the fact that the Northwestern scientists were yet to study the effects of repeated nights of gentle sound stimulation on participants.
Nelly Papalambros, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience who works in Dr. Phyllis Zee’s laboratory said that studies on a larger scale are required to be carried out just as confirmatory tests for the efficacy of the pink noise technique. She further mentioned that the plan was to make ‘at-home’ studies in the long term.
Dr. Roneil Malkani who is an assistant professor of neurology at Feinberg and a sleep specialist at Northwestern Medicine is currently directing a team Northwestern scientists. They are testing the acoustic stimulation effect in overnight sleep studies specifically in patients with memory complaints. The aim is to establish whether pink noise can improve memory in adults who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. This follows previous studies that were carried out on people suffering from mild cognitive impairment. The studies had been conducted in collaboration with the professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences located at Northwestern called Ken Paller. The results were that there is a possible link between memory impairments and sleep.
The above study positively relates pink noise with memory boost and deep sleep. Although more research ought to be done, the discovery can still be applied to help older adults in society not to suffer from memory loss.
Yet another reason why every bedroom needs a sound machine.