Enhanced recognition and recall of new words in 7-and 12-year-olds following a period of offline consolidation

Helen Brown, Anna Weighall, Lisa-Marie Henderson, M. Gareth Gaskell

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Recent studies of adults have found evidence for consolidation effects in the acquisition of novel words, but little is known about whether such effects are found developmentally. In two experiments, we familiarized children with novel nonwords (e.g., biscal) and tested their recognition and recall of these items. In Experiment 1, 7-year-olds were then retested on either the same day or the following day to examine changes in performance after a short delay compared with a longer delay that included sleep. Experiment 2 used two age groups (7- and 12-year-olds), with all participants being retested 24 h later. The 12-year-olds accurately recognized the novel nonwords immediately after exposure, as did the 7-year-olds in Experiment 2 (but not in Experiment 1), suggesting generally good initial rates of learning. Experiment 1 revealed improved recognition of the novel nonwords after both short (3- to 4-h) and longer (24-h) delays. In contrast, recall was initially poor but showed improvements only when children were retested 24 h later, not after a 3- to 4-h delay. Similar improvements were observed in both age groups despite better overall performance in 12-year-olds. We argue that children, like adults, exhibit offline consolidation effects on the formation of novel phonological representations. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

(c) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology . Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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