Poster

The developmental advantage of sleep on declarative memory consolidation

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Abstract

Introduction. Slow waves sleep (SWS) has been associated with declarative memory consolidation processes in children and adults. As children exhibit significantly larger amounts of SWS than adults, it has been hypothesized that memory consolidation may occur at faster pace during development. Methods. To test this hypothesis, we compared sleep-dependent memory consolidation performance between 15 children (7-12 years old) and 15 adults (20-30 years old) who learned novel associations between 50 non-objects and their functions. The effect of sleep was estimated by comparing immediate (evening, session 1, S1) and delayed (morning, session 2, S2) retrieval performance between groups. Results. A repeated measures ANOVA analysis with a within-subject factor SESSION (S1 vs. S2) and a between-subject factor GROUP (Children vs. Adults) showed no main effect of SESSION or GROUP (all p>0.1) but a significant interaction between the SESSION X GROUP factors (F (1,24) = 6.42 ; p<.02). Post hoc Tukey tests showed that adults had significantly poorer retrieval performance after sleep (S2<S1 ; p<.04) whereas in children, retrieval performance was similar between sessions (S2=S1 ; p>.88). Worth noticing, immediate retrieval performance did not differ between groups (p>.2). Discussion. Although a wake condition remains necessary to demonstrate the specific contribution of sleep (vs. an equivalent period of wakefulness) in our study, the results suggest that the consolidation of novel declarative associations may be faster, or at least more efficient, after one night of sleep in children compared to adults. We suggest that this effect may be related to more abundant SWS during development.

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