Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naps help babies learn and retain new information

Date:
February 22, 2010
Source:
University of Arizona
Summary:
Psychologists have found that infants need adequate sleep, including regular naps, in order to effectively learn about the new world they live in.

Anyone who grew up in a large family likely remembers hearing "Don't wake the baby." While it reinforces the message to older kids to keep it down, research shows that sleep also is an important part of how infants learn more about their new world.

Rebecca Gomez, Richard Bootzin and Lynn Nadel in the psychology department at the University of Arizona in Tucson found that babies who are able to get in a little daytime nap are more likely to exhibit an advanced level of learning known as abstraction.

Nadel, a Regents' Professor at the UA, has described the group's work (Early Learning in Infants May Depend on Sleep) in a session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Diego on , Feb. 21.

In their research, Nadel and his colleagues played recordings of "phrases" created from an artificial language to four dozen 15-month-old infants during a learning session. Their methodology included repeatedly playing phrases like "pel-wadim-jic" until the babies became familiar with them.

These phrases contained three units, with the first and last unit forming a relationship. In this example, the first word, "pel," predicts the last, "jic." Even though these are nonsensical sounds, the language created for the test shares some similarity with structure commonly found in subject-verb agreement in English sentences.

Prior to being tested, some infants learning this faux language took their normally scheduled naps. Others were scheduled at a time when they would not nap following the session. When the infants returned to the lab, they again heard the recordings -- along with a set of different phrases in which the predictive relationship between the first and last words were new.

By carefully watching the babies' facial expressions as they listened to both old and new phrases, the researchers were able to rate their level of attention. They found that babies' longer gazes at a flashing light that coincided with the phrases signaled attention, which indicated that they had learned a particular phrase or relationship.

Differences arose between the infants who had napped and those who had not. The infants who did not sleep after the sessions still recognized the phrases they had learned earlier. But those babies who had slept in between sessions were able to generalize their knowledge of sentence structure to draw predictive relationships to the new phrases. This suggests that napping supports abstract learning -- that is, the ability to detect a general pattern contained in new information.

In follow-up work, the UA researchers have shown that infants must have their naps within four hours of listening to the artificial language in order for them to demonstrate this beneficial abstraction effect. Those who failed to nap within that time, but slept normally that evening, failed to show the abstraction effect the next day.

"It's a fairly nuanced story," Nadel said. "What we know is that infants have mostly REM sleep, given the type of sleep they have, given how their brains are developed at that point. And they have to get some of that sleep within a reasonable amount of time after inputting information in order to be able to do abstracting work on it. If they don't sleep within four to eight hours, they probably just lose the entire thing," he said.

What this should reinforce for parents, he said, is that while it obviously is important to give infants and young children the kind of stimulation that comes from reading, talking and exposing them to lots of words, these stimuli need to happen within the context of a reasonably well-regulated daily cycle that includes adequate sleep.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Arizona. The original article was written by Jeff Harrison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Arizona. "Naps help babies learn and retain new information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143202.htm>.
University of Arizona. (2010, February 22). Naps help babies learn and retain new information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143202.htm
University of Arizona. "Naps help babies learn and retain new information." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100221143202.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) The World Health Organizations says TB numbers rose in 2013, but it's partly due to better detection and more survivors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins