The bedtime story effect: The role sleep and semantic training in vocabulary learning.
Acquisition of novel spoken form is rapid and seamless, yet research with adults suggests integration of novel and existing knowledge (measured by engagement in lexical competition) requires a consolidation period associated with sleep (e.g., Dumay& Gaskell, 2007). These findings are well-explained by neural models of learning in which sleep provides an opportunity for hippocampal information to be fed into long-term neocortical memory. The talk will provide an overview of a programme of research which investigated whether this time-course dissociation also characterises word learning in children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old (Henderson, Weighall, Brown & Gaskell, 2012, 2013) and also considers the influence of semantic information on the time course of lexical integration (Henderson, Weighall & Gaskell, 2013; Weighall, Henderson, Gaskell, in prep). Our results, suggest that children, like adults, require a period of offline (sleep-associated) consolidation in order to establish newly words in the lexicon - and that these findings hold true across a range of different learning paradigms. Furthermore, a richer established body of vocabulary knowledge may support consolidation and integration of new vocabulary.