Flexibility in applying existing knowledge to similar cues is a corner stone of memory development in infants. Here, we examine the effect of sleep on the flexibility of memory retrieval using a deferred imitation paradigm. Forty-eight 12-month-old infants were randomly assigned to either a nap or a no-nap demonstration condition (scheduled around their natural daytime sleep schedule) or to a baseline control condition. In the demonstration conditions, infants watched an experimenter perform three target actions on a hand puppet. Immediately afterwards, infants were allowed to practice the target actions three times. In a test session 4-hr later, infants were given the opportunity to reproduce the actions with a novel hand puppet differing in color from the puppet used during the demonstration session. Only infants in the nap-condition performed significantly more target actions than infants in the baseline control condition. Furthermore, they were faster to carry out the first target action than infants in the no-nap condition. We conclude that sleep had a facilitative effect on infants¿ flexibility of memory retrieval.
Konrad, C., Seehagen, S., Schneider, S. & Herbert, J. S. (2016). Naps promote flexible memory retrieval in 12-month-old infants. Developmental Psychobiology, 58 (7), 866-874.