The proposal is a response to Notice Number (NOT-OD-10-032) and Notice Title: NIH Announces the Availability of Recovery Act Funds for Competitive Revision Applications (R01, R03, R15, R21, R21/R33, and R37) through the NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet). The primary objective of the proposed research is to explore the role of sleep in consolidation of memory for newly learned words. The three specific aims are to determine 1) whether napping elicits sleep-based consolidation of newly learned words;2) whether sleep is necessary or whether a period of nonverbal wakefulness will also elicit this effect;and 3) whether the extent of consolidation varies with the length and stage of sleep obtained. In pursuit of these aims, young healthy adults will be trained on novel words and then tested on their acquisition. Subsequently, each participant will nap or remain awake while engaged in either nonverbal or verbal activity for a two-hour period. Sleep will be measured via full polysomnography. Participants will repeat the behavioral tests 2 hours and 24 hours post training. Results will be compared between conditions to test the prediction that more consolidation occurs after a period of sleep than after equivalent time spent awake in verbal or nonverbal environments. Within the nap condition, relationships between amount of consolidation and duration and stage of sleep will be determined. The anticipated results will address issues of current theoretical debate among researchers of sleep and memory. Ultimately, they may hold practical implications for current policy debates over issues such as school start times and workplace effectiveness and they may point to novel intervention practices for individuals affected by language-learning difficulties. The mission of NIH also will be advanced by the building of a new transdisciplinary team and by the development of a practical protocol for studying sleep and learning.

Public Health Relevance

The project stands to increase understanding of human language learning and the link between memory for newly learned words and sleep. The project is relevant to public health, in particular to the health and well-being of populations affected by sleep or language-learning disorders. Ultimately, the results of the project may inform current policy debates over issues such as school start times and work-place effectiveness. Also, they may point to novel interventions for individuals affected by language-learning disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-E (85))
Program Officer
Cooper, Judith
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University of Iowa
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Iowa City
United States
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McGregor, Karla K (2014) What a difference a day makes: change in memory for newly learned word forms over 24 hours. J Speech Lang Hear Res 57:1842-50
McGregor, Karla K; Licandro, Ulla; Arenas, Richard et al. (2013) Why words are hard for adults with developmental language impairments. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:1845-56
Walker, Elizabeth A; McGregor, Karla K (2013) Word learning processes in children with cochlear implants. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:375-87