A new study suggests that you can learn without making any conscious effort. The best part is that you can do this while sleeping. But before you start buying audio textbooks, it’s important to note that this study tested only conditioned learning.
Scientist from the Weizmann institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel studied 55 volunteers while they slept and while they were awake. The volunteers were exposed to paired tones and scents while sleeping. The researchers choose this method of study because the volunteers were less likely to wake up and it was easy to monitor. Humans inhale deeper when exposed to pleasant scents and lighter for unpleasant scents.
Even after the scents were taken away during sleep the participants still inhaled deeply when listening to tones that were associated with the pleasant scents, and lightly when listening to tones associated with the unpleasant scents. This was also true when hearing the tones when they were awake.
This is one of the first studies to show that you can learn in your sleep. The lead researcher, Anat Arzi, said they are still in the primary stages of understanding sleep-learning, but he hopes to conduct further research on the topic. Who knows, maybe someday we will be able to learn through our dreams.