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The significance of emotional cues for sleep-dependent memory consolidation in language acquisition (302)

Both emotions and sleep modulate memory processes. So far, the interaction of emotion, sleep, and memory during early development is completely unknown. The aim of our research project is to identify the impact of the interaction of emotions and sleep on the fast mapping of words on reference objects in toddlers.

Using a combination of electrophysiology and behavioral measures we investigate to which extent initial object-word mappings (encoding) and the later transfer of this newly acquired lexical-semantic knowledge into long-term memory (consolidation) depends on the emotional value of the words' speech melody.

In particular, brain responses shed light on both emotion-dependent encoding during the learning phase and the children’s alertness state or their sleep stage during the consolidation phase. The children’s memory performance in the subsequent behavioral test phase should clarify how far emotional prosody affects the consolidation of lexical-semantic knowledge, and whether the impact of emotion on long-term memory depends on specific sleep stages during the consolidation phase.


Friedrich, M., Friederici, A. D. (2010). Maturing brain mechanisms and developing behavioural language skills. Brain & Language 114 (2). 66-71. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2009.07.004.

Friedrich, M. (2008). Neurophysiological correlates of picture-word priming in one-year-olds. Friederici, A. D., Thierry, G. (Eds.). Early Languages Development: Bridging Brain and Behaviour. 137-160. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Series "Trends in Language Acquisition Research" (TiLAR), Volume 5

Friedrich, M., Friederici, A. D. (2008). Neurophysiological correlates of online word learning in 14-month-old infants. NeuroReport 19 (18). 1757-1761.

Friedrich, M., Friederici, A. D. (2006). Early N400 development and later language acquisition. Psychophysiology 43. 1-12.

Friedrich, M., Friederici, A. D. (2005). Lexical priming and semantic integration reflected in the ERP of 14-month-olds. NeuroReport 16 (6). 653-656.