Recent advances in memory research indicate that cognitive processing during sleep supports memory storage (e.g., Paller & Voss, 2004; Born, 2010). In recent studies from our lab, individual memories were strengthened through memory reactivation achieved by presenting task-associated sounds during sleep (Rudoy et al., 2009; Creery et al., in preparation). Here, we propose to use the same sound reactivation method to strengthen habit learning of pro-sociality and compassion during sleep. Participants will attend a compassion training session and later sounds associated with that session will play during sleep. Differences in levels of compassion will be measured using the Implicit Association Task, event-related potentials and self-report on questionnaires. We expect these measures to be effective in measuring the participant’s equanimity for people with different political views. In this study, we aim to combine methods from contemplative science with new ideas from memory research in order to further explore the capabilities of the sleeping brain.

Jessica Creery

Northwestern University