Sleep's role in memory consolidation: What can we learn from atypical development?

Elsevier, Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Volume 60, January 2021
Luongo A., Lukowski A., Protho T., Van Vorce H., Pisani L., Edgin J.
Research conducted over the last century has suggested a role for sleep in the processes guiding healthy cognition and development, including memory consolidation. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) tend to have higher rates of sleep disturbances, which could relate to behavior issues, developmental delays, and learning difficulties. While several studies examine whether sleep exacerbates daytime difficulties and attention deficits in children with IDDs, this chapter focuses on the current state of knowledge regarding sleep and memory consolidation in typically developing (TD) groups and those at risk for learning difficulties. In particular, this chapter summarizes the current literature on sleep-dependent learning across developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Learning Disabilities (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia). We also highlight the gaps in the current literature and identify challenges in studying sleep-dependent memory in children with different IDDs. This burgeoning new field highlights the importance of considering the role of sleep in memory retention across long delays when evaluating children's memory processes. Further, an understanding of typical and atypical development can mutually inform recent theories of sleep's role in memory.