Semantic and phonological schema influence spoken word learning and overnight consolidation

Viktoria Havas, J S H Taylor, Ruth de Diego-Balaguer, Antoni Rodriquez-Fornells, Matthew H. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the initial acquisition and overnight consolidation of new spoken words that resemble words in the native language (L1) or in an unfamiliar, non-native language (L2). Spanish-speaking participants learned the spoken forms of novel words in their native language (Spanish) or in a different language (Hungarian), which were paired with pictures of familiar or unfamiliar objects, or no picture. We thereby assessed, in a factorial way, the impact of existing knowledge (schema) on word learning by manipulating both semantic (familiar vs. unfamiliar objects) and phonological (L1- vs. L2-like novel words) familiarity. Participants were trained and tested with a 12-hour intervening period that included overnight sleep or daytime awake. Our results showed; i) benefits of sleep to recognition memory that were greater for words with L2-like phonology; ii) that learned associations with familiar but not unfamiliar pictures enhanced recognition memory for novel words. Implications for complementary systems accounts of word learning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1481
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright: Taylor & Francis

Funding: Spanish Government (PSI2011-29219, awarded to ARF) and a predoctoral position awarded to VH.


  • word learning
  • semantic
  • phonology
  • schema
  • consolidation
  • L1 L2


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