Insights into sleep's role for insight: Studies with the number reduction task

Rolf Verleger*, Michael Rose, Ullrich Wagner, Juliana Yordanova, Vasil Kolev

*Corresponding author for this work
11 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, vibrant research has developed on " consolidation" during sleep: To what extent are newly experienced impressions reprocessed or even restructured during sleep? We used the number reduction task (NRT NRT) to study if and how sleep does not only reiterate new experiences but may even lead to new insights. In the NRTNRTNRT, covert regularities may speed responses. This implicit acquisition of regularities may become explicitly conscious at some point, leading to a qualitative change in behavior which reflects this insight. By applying the NRT NRT at two consecutive sessions separated by an interval, we investigated the role of sleep in this interval for attaining insight at the second session. In the first study, a night of sleep was shown to triple the number of participants attaining insight above the base rate of about 20%. In the second study, this hard core of 20% discoverers differed from other participants in their task-related EEG potentials from the very beginning already. In the third study, the additional role of sleep was specified as an effect of the deep-sleep phase of slow-wave sleep on participants who had implicitly acquired the covert regularity before sleep. It was in these participants that a specific increase of EEG during slow-wave sleep in the 10-12 Hz band was obtained. These results support the view that neuronal memory reprocessing during slow-wave sleep restructures task-related representations in the brain, and that such restructuring promotes the gain of explicit knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)160-172
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.12.2013


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