Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Consolidation during sleep of perceptual learning of spoken language

Abstract

Memory consolidation resulting from sleep has been seen broadly: in verbal list learning1, spatial learning2,3, and skill acquisition in visual4,5,6,7,8 and motor9,10,11 tasks. These tasks do not generalize across spatial locations or motor sequences, or to different stimuli in the same location5,11,12. Although episodic rote learning constitutes a large part of any organism's learning, generalization is a hallmark of adaptive behaviour13. In speech, the same phoneme often has different acoustic patterns depending on context. Training on a small set of words improves performance on novel words using the same phonemes but with different acoustic patterns, demonstrating perceptual generalization14. Here we show a role of sleep in the consolidation of a naturalistic spoken-language learning task that produces generalization of phonological categories across different acoustic patterns. Recognition performance immediately after training showed a significant improvement that subsequently degraded over the span of a day's retention interval, but completely recovered following sleep. Thus, sleep facilitates the recovery and subsequent retention of material learned opportunistically at any time throughout the day. Performance recovery indicates that representations and mappings associated with generalization are refined and stabilized during sleep.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Sleep effect on retention of learning for word identification.

References

  1. Ficca, G., Lombardo, P., Rossi, L. & Salzarulo, P. Morning recall of verbal material depends on prior sleep organization. Behav. Brain Res. 112, 159–163 (2000)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Smith, C. & Rose, G. Posttraining paradoxical sleep in rats is increased after spatial learning in the Morris water maze. Behav. Neurosci. 111, 1197–1204 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Plihal, W. & Born, J. Effects of early and late nocturnal sleep on priming and spatial memory. Psychophysiol. 36, 571–582 (1999)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Karni, A., Tanne, D., Rubenstein, B. S., Askenasy, J. J. M. & Sagi, D. Dependence on REM sleep of overnight perceptual skill. Science 265, 679–682 (1994)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Karni, A. & Sagi, D. The time course of learning a visual skill. Nature 365, 250–252 (1993)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Mednick, S. C. et al. The restorative effect of naps on perceptual deterioration. Nature Neurosci. 5, 677–681 (2002)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Stickgold, R., James, L. & Hobson, J. A. Visual discrimination learning requires sleep after training. Nature Neurosci. 3, 1237–1238 (2000)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Stickgold, R., Whidbee, D., Schirmer, B., Patel, V. & Hobson, J. A. Visual discrimination task improvement: A multi-step process occurring during sleep. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 12, 246–254 (2000)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Brashers-Krug, T., Shadmehr, R. & Bizzi, E. Consolidation in human motor memory. Nature 382, 252–255 (1996)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Walker, M. P., Brakefield, T., Morgan, A., Hobson, J. A. & Stickgold, R. Practice with sleep makes perfect: sleep-dependent motor skill learning. Neuron 35, 205–211 (2002)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Karni, A. et al. The acquisition of skilled motor performance: Fast and slow experience-driven changes in primary motor cortex. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 95, 861–868 (1998)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Karni, A. et al. Functional MRI evidence for adult motor cortex plasticity during motor skill learning. Nature 377, 155–158 (1995)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Karni, A. & Bertini, G. Learning perceptual skills: behavioral probes into adult cortical plasticity. Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 7, 530–535 (1997)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Schwab, E. C., Nusbaum, H. C. & Pisoni, D. B. Some effects of training on the perception of synthetic speech. Hum. Factors 27, 395–408 (1985)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Greenspan, S. L., Nusbaum, H. C. & Pisoni, D. B. Perceptual learning of synthetic speech produced by rule. J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cogn. 14, 421–433 (1988)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Johnson, M. P. et al. Short-term memory, alertness and performance: a reappraisal of their relationship to body temperature. J. Sleep Res. 1, 24–29 (1992)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Gabrieli, J. D. E. Cognitive neuroscience of human memory. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 49, 87–115 (1998)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Liberman, A. M., Cooper, F. S., Shankweiler, D. P. & Studdert-Kennedy, M. Perception of the speech code. Psychol. Rev. 74, 431–461 (1967)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Ohman, S. E. Coarticulation in VCV utterances: Spectrographic measurements. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 39, 151–168 (1966)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Rudnicky, A. I. & Cole, R. A. Effect of subsequent context on syllable perception. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 4, 638–647 (1978)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Nusbaum, H. C. & Pisoni, D. B. Automatic measurement of speech recognition performance: A comparison of six speaker-dependent recognition devices. Comp. Speech Lang. 2, 87–108 (1987)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Pisoni, D. B. in Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes Vol. 6 Linguistic Functions in Cognitive Theory (ed. Estes, W. K.) 167–233 (Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Hillsdale, New Jersey, 1978)

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kolers, P. A. & Perkins, D. N. Orientation of letters and errors in their recognition. Percept. Psychophys. 5, 265–269 (1969)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Egan, J. P. Articulation testing methods. Laryngoscope 58, 955–991 (1948)

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank E. Van Cauter, A. S. Henly and N. P. Issa for critiques of the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the McCormick Tribune Foundation to H.C.N. and from the National Institutes of Health to D.M.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kimberly M. Fenn.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fenn, K., Nusbaum, H. & Margoliash, D. Consolidation during sleep of perceptual learning of spoken language. Nature 425, 614–616 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01951

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature01951

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing