May You Rest

by Rosie Sorenson — Just because I’m sitting at my desk with a far-away look in my eyes doesn’t mean I’m goofing off.  On the contrary, what I am actually doing is performing an offline transfer of information from my hippocampus to my neocortex. So there.

We can thank some researchers at New York University for this lovely excuse, er, piece of information. A study published in Neuron reported on the findings of Lila Davachi, assistant professor of psychology and Arielle Tambini, a doctoral candidate at NYU. They discovered that in order for their research subjects to strengthen their memories, it was best if they engaged in “active rest” shortly after learning something new instead of rushing on to a new task. So in case you have been feeling guilty for under-tasking, you can now scoff at your overloaded multi-tasking brethren who surely don’t remember half of what they have been trying to stuff into their neocortexes because they’re not taking sufficient rest breaks.  

Come to think of it, isn’t that what cats have been trying to teach us for millennia? New mouse in the house? Attack it with all your might, then?REST! Let that new learning soak in so you have it at the ready for the next mouse assault. Finally got that door lever to work so you can let yourself outside? Rest again. Don’t want to forget that tricky little maneuver. Just discovered that a low belly crawl accompanied by your best baritone growl results in Figaro, your nemesis cat, leaving the neighborhood? OMG! Must rest now. 

Just completed a wild leap onto your Daddy’s chest this morning so he would wake up and feed you? Well, Dude, of course you must rest. 

We’d all be better off if we observed and imitated our feline friends. Studied two hours for that tricky exam? Time to cuddle up with your favorite chew toy and rest, so as to allow that knowledge to make its way up the information superhighway from your hippocampus to your neocortex. Just finished reviewing your tax returns in preparation for an IRS audit? Rest. Actively. Just went out on a blind date with a guy from Mars? You know what you must do?rest, big time.

What comes naturally to felines might well be applied to Congress. Just read that 15-pound health care bill. Rest, for goodness sake, before you cast your vote. We need you to have all your hippocampus/neocortex cells firing at the same time in order to make sense of that one. Want to bomb the heck out of another Middle Eastern country because of the latest intelligence document you read today? Please. Rest. Now!

Have you just reviewed some banking industry report that recommends more de-regulation?

How many times do we have to tell you?  Rest, rest and more rest.  

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Oops, sorry about that.  It’s just that I worked so hard this afternoon to learn all the ins-and-outs of the proposed replacements for the Affordable Care Act that my hippocampus and my neocortex started smokin’.

Must. Rest. Now.

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