Certain kinds of conditioning applied during sleep could induce us to change our real life behaviour, the findings showed."Conditioning can take place during sleep, and this conditioning can lead to real behavioural changes. Our sense of smell may be an entryway to our sleeping brain that may, in the future, help us to change addictive or harmful behaviour," said Anat Arzi from Weizmann Institute.

The researchers exposed smokers to pairs of smells - cigarettes together with that of rotten eggs or fish - as the subjects slept, and then asked them to record how many cigarettes they smoked in the following week.

The results revealed a significant reduction in smoking following conditioning during sleep.The current study was performed on 66 volunteers who wanted to quit smoking, but were not being treated for the problem.

The scientists noted that the group with the best results - an average of 30 percent fewer cigarettes - was comprised of those who had been exposed to the smells during stage 2, non-REM sleep.

The researchers noted that some of these regions not only remain active when we sleep, the information they absorb may even be enhanced in slumber.The study appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience.

 

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