Left: The procedural memory we rely on to learn and perform certain tasks, such as cycling, improves with practice and sleep. Repeated practice activates the relevant neurons and strengthens the connections between them. Middle: During the night, these neurons are reactivated, and when we enter a stage of sleep called nREM sleep, a region of the brain called the putamen oversees the transfer of these patterns of activity from the cortex (the outer layer of the brain) to regions located deeper within the brain. Right: Vahdat et al. showed that stronger connections between the putamen and other brain regions resulted in the participants in their experiments performing better in a learning task the following morning.
IMAGE CREDIT: H-V V Ngo.