At certain points during the day, our brain sifts through the day’s events to determine which memories are worth keeping. As researchers have found, there are ways to subconsciously affect this process and prioritize certain memories over others. As Erin Brodwin writes at Business Insider, listening to certain sounds while you sleep can help strengthen your ability to learn a new language, memorize a piece of music, or recall specific events from the previous day.
Brodwin details several studies that proved this fact. In one, German speakers learning Dutch demonstrated a heightened ability to memorize vocabulary words when those particular words were played to them while they slept. A similar study found that subjects taught to play music in a manner similar to the video game Guitar Hero performed better after a nap during which the tune was played in the room. A third study showed that when you associate a sound with an act, such as a bell’s “ding” when placing an object on a shelf, hearing that sound while you sleep will boost your ability to remember where you placed the object.
Of note: Brodwin explains that it’s not just the sense of hearing that can help you augment your memory; the sense of smell has a similar effect.