Very young children learn words at a tremendous rate. Now researchers at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, have for the first time seen how specific brain regions activate as two-year-olds remember newly learned words — while the children were sleeping. The work is published Oct. 19 in Current Biology.
“We can now leverage sleep to look at basic mechanisms of learning new words,” said Simona Ghetti, professor at the Center for Mind and Brain and UC Davis Department of Psychology.
At two to three years old, children enter a unique age in memory development, Ghetti said. But young children are challenging to study, and they especially dislike being in a functional MRI scanner.
“The scariest things to small children are darkness and loud noises, and that’s what it’s like during an MRI scan,” Ghetti said.
Ghetti’s team had previously found that if…