Consolidating new words from repetitive versus multiple stories: Prior knowledge matters


Prior knowledge is proposed to support the consolidation of newly acquired material. The current study examined whether children with superior vocabulary knowledge show enhanced overnight consolidation, particularly when new words are encountered in varying stories. Children aged 10 and 11 years (N=42) were exposed to two sets of eight spoken novel words (e.g., “crocodol”), with one set embedded in the same story presented twice and the other presented in two different stories. Children with superior vocabulary knowledge showed larger overnight gains in explicit phonological and semantic knowledge when novel words had been encountered in multiple stories. However, when novel words had been encountered in repetitive stories, existing knowledge exerted no influence on the consolidation of explicit phonological knowledge and had a negative impact on the consolidation of semantic knowledge. One full day (24h) after story exposure, only very weak evidence of lexical integration (i.e., slower animacy decisions toward the basewords [e.g., “crocodile”] than toward the control words) was observed for novel words learned via repetitive (but not multiple) stories. These data suggest that although the consolidation of explicit new word knowledge learned through multiple contexts is supported by prior knowledge, lexical integration might benefit more from repetition.

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166
Emma James
Emma James
Developmental Psychologist