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Cueing vocabulary during daytime wake has no effect on memory

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2015
Author Schreiner Thomas, Rasch Björn,
Project A brain state-dependent role of reactivation for memory formation
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Somnologie
Volume (Issue) 2
Page(s) 1
Title of proceedings Somnologie


Background It is assumed that the beneficial effect of sleep on memory relies on spontaneous reactivation of memories during sleep. We have recently shown that reactivation by re-exposure to previously learned foreign vocabulary cues during sleep benefits vocabulary learning. Cueing foreign vocabulary during active or passive wakefulness at night did not improve memory, suggesting that memory benefits of cueing are sleep-specific. Still, the ineffectiveness of cueing during wakefulness might also be explained by increased tiredness of the participants in this former study. Objectives To exclude tiredness as confounding factor, we tested the effect of vocabulary cueing during active and passive daytime wakefulness. We hypothesized that cueing during waking does not improve memory consolidation, even when participants are well rested. Methods 32 subjects learned 120 Dutch-German word pairs. During a 3 hours retention interval, parts of the previously learned Dutch words were replayed again. Subjects of the active waking group (N=16) were distracted from hearing the Dutch words by an n-back task, while subjects of the passive waking group (N=16) were not distracted. After the retention interval memory for word pairs were tested by a cued recall. Results Replay of Dutch words during daytime wake did not improve later memory for the German translation in both of the waking groups. We observed no difference in recall performance between cued and uncued words, neither in the active waking nor in the passive waking group. Conclusions Cueing Dutch words during wakefulness does not exert beneficial effects on memory, even when subjects are well rested and under full control of their cognitive capacities. This result gives further evidence that the beneficial effects of cueing are solely sleep specific.