Nap timing makes a difference: Sleeping sooner rather than later after learning improves infants’ locomotor problem solving

Aaron DeMasi, Melissa N. Horger, Angelina M. Allia, Anat Scher, Sarah E. Berger

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Twenty-nine newly-walking infants who had recently given up crawling trained to navigate a shoulder-height, nylon tunnel to reach a caregiver waiting at the other end. Infants in the Nap First group napped within 30 min of initial training. Infants in the Delay First group napped four hours after training. All infants were retested six hours after training on the same locomotor problem. Learning was measured by the number of training prompts required to solve the task, exploration, and time to solve the problem. Nap First infants benefited the most from a nap; they required fewer training prompts, used fewer posture shifts from training to test, and solved the task faster compared to Delay First infants, suggesting that optimally timed sleep does not merely protect against interference, but actively contributes to memory consolidation. This study highlights the importance of nap timing as a design feature and was a first step towards limit-testing the boundaries of the relation between sleep and learning. Infants’ fragile memories require regular consolidation with intermittent periods of sleep to prevent interference or forgetting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101652
    JournalInfant Behavior and Development
    Volume65
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This manuscript is based in part on a first doctoral exam submitted to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York by A.D. and on an undergraduate honors thesis submitted to the College of Staten Island Department of Psychology by Pascale Saad in partial fulfillment of the requirements to graduate with honors. Portions of this research were presented at the XXI Biennial Meeting of the International Congress on Infant Studies, Philadelphia, PA, July, 2018; the Joint International Workshop for Understanding and Promoting Change from Early to Complex Skills in Typical and Atypical Development: A Cross-Population Approach, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, October, 2018; and the Conference on Cognition Research of the Israeli Society for Cognitive Psychology, Akko, Israel, February, 2019. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Child Development Lab, especially Pascale Saad, Dana Friedman, Fatima Arman, Ruth Marsiliani, Sapir Elmaliah, Salwa Raheel, Daniel Palmieri and we thank the parents and infants who participated. Funding: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation , Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Science [ 1551703 ] and Professional Staff Congress–City University of New York (PSC–CUNY) [Award No. 67509-00 45 ] to S.E.B; a Binational Science Foundation (BSF-2015606) to A.S.; and a CUNY Coordinated Undergraduate Education Research Stipend and International Congress of Infant Studies Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship to Pascale Saad.

    Funding Information:
    This manuscript is based in part on a first doctoral exam submitted to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York by A.D. and on an undergraduate honors thesis submitted to the College of Staten Island Department of Psychology by Pascale Saad in partial fulfillment of the requirements to graduate with honors. Portions of this research were presented at the XXI Biennial Meeting of the International Congress on Infant Studies, Philadelphia, PA, July, 2018; the Joint International Workshop for Understanding and Promoting Change from Early to Complex Skills in Typical and Atypical Development: A Cross-Population Approach, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, October, 2018; and the Conference on Cognition Research of the Israeli Society for Cognitive Psychology, Akko, Israel, February, 2019. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Child Development Lab, especially Pascale Saad, Dana Friedman, Fatima Arman, Ruth Marsiliani, Sapir Elmaliah, Salwa Raheel, Daniel Palmieri and we thank the parents and infants who participated. Funding: This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Science [1551703] and Professional Staff Congress?City University of New York (PSC?CUNY) [Award No. 67509-00 45] to S.E.B; a Binational Science Foundation (BSF-2015606) to A.S.; and a CUNY Coordinated Undergraduate Education Research Stipend and International Congress of Infant Studies Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship to Pascale Saad.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2021 Elsevier Inc.

    Keywords

    • Infancy
    • Learning
    • Napping
    • Problem solving
    • Sleep
    • Walking

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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