Sleep in children is more effective in converting implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge, than it is in adults, according to a study published online this week in Nature Neuroscience.
Jan Born and colleagues trained children and adults to press buttons on a panel in a particular order using a trial and error method. After a night of sleep, the participants were asked to explicitly recall the sequence of button presses. Children performed better on this explicit memory test than did adults. The authors note that the children had slower wave activity (SWA) in their sleep, and this quantity was correlated with explicit memory performance.
Although sleep-dependent benefits have been shown in several other memory tasks in children, most of these effects are smaller or comparable to those seen in adults. The conversion of implicit experience to explicit knowledge seems to be a specific advantage of children’s sleep.