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Slide Slam H14

Consolidation-phase gains and retention in incidental auditory category learning: comparing children to adults

Slide Slam Session H, Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 6:00 - 8:00 am PDT Log In to set Timezone

Noyli Nissan1, Avi Karni1, Lori L Holt2, Yafit Gabay1; 1University of Haifa, 2Carnegie Mellon University

Studies, mainly in the motor domain, have shown that maturation, across puberty, affects post-learning, memory consolidation, processes; it is less clear how development affects, if at all, the consolidation of auditory-perceptual skills. Here we examined the effects of consolidation processes and retention, in children and adults, using a task in which sound-pattern categories can be incidentally and implicitly learned. Adult (23-32 years) and child (10-11 year-olds, median, 10.6 girls, 11.2 boys) cohorts performed the Systematic-Multimodal-Associations-Reaction-Time (SMART) task in which participants indicate, by corresponding button-presses, the appearance of a visual target in one of four possible screen locations. Before each target presentation, sound-patterns drawn from specific categories were presented; unknown to participants, each category perfectly predicted an upcoming visual target's location. Response times to the target, and RT-costs when the association of auditory category to visual target location were subsequently scrambled, were recorded during online performance, after a 24-hour delay (consolidation), and after 7 days (retention). Both children and adults had significantly improved in RTs in the 24-hours interval (overnight) after the initial training session; moreover, these gains were robustly retained. In addition, both children and adults showed large RT-costs whenever the auditory-category to visual-location associations were scrambled; the children somewhat less susceptible to the scrambling. Thus, the 10-11 year-olds can express delayed, consolidation phase, gains and retain auditory category knowledge, acquired incidentally, as robustly as young adults. Although development may affect sensitivity to cross-modal structure, memory consolidation processes triggered in the incidental learning of sound-pattern categories mature before adolescence.

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