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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2008 Jan;89(1):76-80. Epub 2007 Oct 29.

Immediate as well as delayed post learning sleep but not wakefulness enhances declarative memory consolidation in children.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Luebeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23538 Luebeck, Germany.


While there is mounting evidence for the importance of sleep for declarative memory consolidation in adults, so far this issue has not been investigated in children despite considerable differences in sleep duration and sleep architecture between children and adults. Here, 27 children (aged between 9 and 12yr) were examined on two conditions: on the Sleep-Wake condition, subjects learned word pairs in the evening and delayed recall was tested first in the next morning after sleep and then again in the following evening after daytime wakefulness. On the Wake-Sleep condition, learning took place in the morning and delayed recall was tested in the evening of the same day and again in the next morning after sleep. In both conditions retention of declarative memory was significantly increased only after an interval of sleep that either followed immediately after learning (as in the Sleep-Wake condition) or that followed after daytime wakefulness (as in the Wake-Sleep condition), respectively. The results support the hypothesis that sleep plays an active role in declarative memory consolidation even if delayed and further show for the first time the importance of sleep for declarative memory consolidation during childhood.

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