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Auditory event-related potentials to semantic priming during sleep.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Miguel Servet Hospital, Zaragoza, Spain.


The present study uses the N400 component of event-related potentials (ERPs) as a processing marker of single spoken words presented during sleep. Thirteen healthy volunteers participated in the study. The auditory ERPs were registered in response to a semantic priming paradigm made up of pairs of words (50% related, 50% unrelated) presented in the waking state and during sleep stages II, III-IV and REM. The amplitude, latency and scalp distribution parameters of the negativity observed during stage II and the REM stage were contrasted with the results obtained in the waking state. The 'N400-like' effect elicited in these stages of sleep showed a mean amplitude for pairs of unrelated words significantly greater than for related pairs and an increment of latency. These results suggest that during these sleep stages a semantic priming effect is maintained actively although the lexical processing time increases.

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