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Consolidation of vocabulary is associated with sleep in typically developing children, but not in children with dyslexia

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JournalDevelopmental Science
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Oct 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2017
DatePublished (current) - 29 Aug 2018
Issue number5
Early online date11/12/17
Original languageEnglish


Sleep is known to play an active role in consolidating new vocabulary in adults; however, the mechanisms by which sleep promotes vocabulary consolidation in childhood are less well understood. Furthermore, there has been no investigation into whether previously reported differences in sleep architecture might account for variability in vocabulary consolidation in children with dyslexia. Twenty-three children with dyslexia and 29 age-matched typically developing peers were exposed to 16 novel spoken words. Typically developing children showed overnight improvements in novel word recall; the size of the improvement correlated positively with slow wave activity, similar to previous findings with adults. Children with dyslexia showed poorer recall of the novel words overall, but nevertheless showed overnight improvements similar to age-matched peers. However, comparisons with younger children matched on initial levels of novel word recall pointed to reduced consolidation in dyslexics after 1 week. Crucially, there were no significant correlations between overnight consolidation and sleep parameters in the dyslexic group. This suggests a reduced role of sleep in vocabulary consolidation in dyslexia, possibly as a consequence of lower levels of learning prior to sleep, and highlights how models of sleep-associated memory consolidation can be usefully informed by data from typical and atypical development.

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© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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