Sleep-dependent memory consolidation of televised content in infants

Publication Name

Journal of Sleep Research


Infants face the constant challenge of selecting information for encoding and storage from a continuous incoming stream of data. Sleep might help in this process by selectively consolidating new memory traces that are likely to be of future relevance. Using a deferred imitation paradigm and an experimental design, we asked whether 15- and 24-month-old infants (N = 105) who slept soon after encoding a televised demonstration of target actions would show higher imitation scores (retention) after a 24-h delay than same-aged infants who stayed awake for ≥4 h after encoding. In light of infants’ well-known difficulties in learning and remembering information from screens, we tested if increasing the relevance of the televised content via standardised caregiver verbalisations might yield the highest imitation scores in the sleep condition. Regardless of sleep condition, 24-month-olds exhibited retention of target actions while 15-month-olds consistently failed to do so. For 24-month-olds, temporal recall was facilitated by sleep, but not by parental verbalisations. Correlational analyses revealed that more time asleep within 4 h after encoding was associated with better retention of the target actions and their temporal order in 24-months-olds. These results suggest that sleep facilitates memory consolidation of screen-based content in late infancy and that this effect might not hinge on caregivers’ verbal engagement during viewing.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Number

KO 5811/1‐1

Funding Sponsor

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



Link to publisher version (DOI)