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Poster B90

The influence of memory reactivation during sleep on vocabulary and grammar rule learning

Poster Session B - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Stacey Reyes1 (, Laura Batterink2; 1Western University

Two essential components of language learning include vocabulary learning, the mappings between words and meaning, and rule generalization – the ability to extract regularities from input and apply them to novel instances. During sleep, recently encoded information is reactivated, leading to the consolidation and strengthening of both item-specific and abstract memory representations. However, within the context of language learning, it is unclear whether sleep-based memory consolidation influences both vocabulary and regularity-based knowledge to a similar degree, or whether one type of knowledge is preferentially consolidated over the other. In the current project, we will test whether externally-induced memory reactivation, known as targeted memory reactivation (TMR), boosts both vocabulary and grammar knowledge to a similar degree. Participants will learn an artificial language comprised of individual vocabulary items along with a hidden suffix rule that denotes the word’s noun class (e.g. human versus animal). Learning will be followed by a 90-minute nap opportunity, during which a subset of the words will be covertly presented during slow wave sleep. Participants will then be tested on their knowledge of the words and the suffix rule upon awakening. We hypothesize that TMR will benefit both vocabulary and rule generalization, such that a boost in performance will be observed for both cued words and non-cued words in the cued grammatical noun class. These findings will allow us to better understand how sleep-based memory consolidation contributes to different aspects of language learning, and could produce insights leading to the development of new methods to support language learning.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Semantic


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April 13–16  |  2024