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  The sleeping infant brain anticipates development

Friedrich, M., Wilhelm, I., Mölle, M., Born, J., & Friederici, A. D. (2017). The sleeping infant brain anticipates development. Current Biology, 27(15), 2374-2380. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.070.

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Friedrich, Manuela1, 2, 3, Author           
Wilhelm, Ines4, 5, Author
Mölle, Matthias6, Author
Born, Jan3, Author
Friederici, Angela D.2, Author           
1Department of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
2Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, Leipzig, DE, ou_634551              
3Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, ou_persistent22              
5Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland, ou_persistent22              
6Center of Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM), University of Lübeck, Germany, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: Infants; Sleep; Memory consolidation; Word meanings; Object categories; Semantic priming; ERPs; NREM sleep; Sleep stage 2; Sleep spindles
 Abstract: From the age of 3 months, infants learn relations between objects and co-occurring words [1]. These very first representations of object-word pairings in infant memory are considered as non-symbolic proto-words comprising specific visual-auditory associations that can already be formed in the first months of life [2–5]. Genuine words that refer to semantic long-term memory have not been evidenced prior to 9 months of age [6–9]. Sleep is known to facilitate the reorganization of memories [9–14], but its impact on the perceptual-to-semantic trend in early development is unknown. Here we explored the formation of word meanings in 6- to 8-month-old infants and its reorganization during the course of sleep. Infants were exposed to new words as labels for new object categories. In the memory test about an hour later, generalization to novel category exemplars was tested. In infants who took a short nap during the retention period, a brain response of 3-month-olds [1] was observed, indicating generalizations based on early developing perceptual-associative memory. In those infants who napped longer, a semantic priming effect [15, 16] usually found later in development [17–19] revealed the formation of genuine words. The perceptual-to-semantic shift in memory was related to the duration of sleep stage 2 and to locally increased sleep spindle activity. The finding that, after the massed presentation of several labeled category exemplars, sleep enabled even 6-month-olds to create semantic long-term memory clearly challenges the notion that immature brain structures are responsible for the typically slower lexical development.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2017-02-282016-11-292017-06-272017-07-272017-08-07
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.070
PMID: 28756948
Other: Epub 2017
 Degree: -



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Project name : -
Grant ID : FR 1336/2-1 ; FR 1336/2-2 ; BO 854/8-1
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Source 1

Title: Current Biology
  Other : Curr. Biol.
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: London, UK : Cell Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 27 (15) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 2374 - 2380 Identifier: ISSN: 0960-9822
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925579107