Nap-dependent learning in infants


Almut Hupbach, Department of Psychology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA; e-mail:


Sleep has been shown to aid a variety of learning and memory processes in adults ( Stickgold, 2005 ). Recently, we showed that infants’ learning also benefits from subsequent sleep such that infants who nap are able to abstract the general grammatical pattern of a briefly presented artificial language ( Gomez, Bootzin & Nadel, 2006 ). In the present study, we demonstrate, for the first time, long-term effects of sleep on memory for an artificial language. Fifteen-month-old infants who had napped within 4 hours of language exposure remembered the general grammatical pattern of the language 24 hours later. In contrast, infants who had not napped shortly after being familiarized with the language showed no evidence of remembering anything about the language. Our findings support the view that infants’ frequent napping plays an essential role in establishing long-term memory.