University of Alberta psychology professor Clayton Dickson likened the process to someone trying to permanently memorize a phone number.
"We repeat the number several times to ourselves, so hopefully we can automatically recall it when needed."
Dickson, the lead researcher on the project, said that neurons likely rehearse the process for recalling newly installed memories by using the brain's downtime to send and resend signals back and forth, establishing well practiced synaptic connections.
"Those connections allow the brain to retrieve the memories and rehearsal ensures that they last for a long time," said Dickson.
"It was previously thought that only biochemical processes like protein synthesis were important for solidifying memories," Dickson added.
Dickson said that further investigation of this process could be used to improve an individual's memory and possibly as a tool to delete negative or post traumatic memories.