Something old, something new: A review of the literature on sleep-related lexicalization of novel words in adults

Pauline Palma, Debra Titone
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2020 September 16
Word learning is a crucial aspect of human development that depends on the formation and consolidation of novel memory traces. In this paper, we critically review the behavioural research on sleep-related lexicalization of novel words in healthy young adult speakers. We first describe human memory systems, the processes underlying memory consolidation, then we describe the complementary learning systems account of memory consolidation. We then review behavioural studies focusing on novel word learning and sleep-related lexicalization in monolingual samples, while highlighting their relevance to three main theoretical questions. Finally, we review the few studies that have investigated sleep-related lexicalization in L2 speakers. Overall, while several studies suggest that sleep promotes the gradual transformation of initially labile traces into more stable representations, a growing body of work suggests a rich variety of time courses for novel word lexicalization. Moreover, there is a need for more work on sleep-related lexicalization patterns in varied populations, such as L2 speakers and bilingual speakers, and more work on individual differences, to fully understand the boundary conditions of this phenomenon.

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