Sleep-driven computations in speech processing

Rebecca L.A. Frost*, Padraic Monaghan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Acquiring language requires segmenting speech into individual words, and abstracting over those words to discover grammatical structure. However, these tasks can be conflicting on the one hand requiring memorisation of precise sequences that occur in speech, and on the other requiring a flexible reconstruction of these sequences to determine the grammar. Here, we examine whether speech segmentation and generalisation of grammar can occur simultaneouslywith the conflicting requirements for these tasks being over-come by sleep-related consolidation. After exposure to an artificial language comprising words containing non-Adjacent dependencies, participants underwent periods of consolidation involving either sleep or wake. Participants who slept before testing demonstrated a sustained boost to word learning and a short-Term improvement to grammatical generalisation of the non-Adjacencies, with improvements after sleep outweighing gains seen after an equal period of wake. Thus, we propose that sleep may facilitate processing for these conflicting tasks in language acquisition, but with enhanced benefits for speech segmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0169538
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Sleep
  • Psychology


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