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Title: Habitual sleep is associated with both source memory and hippocampal subfield volume during early childhood

Previous research has established important developmental changes in sleep and memory during early childhood. These changes have been linked separately to brain development, yet few studies have explored their interrelations during this developmental period. The goal of this report was to explore these associations in 200 (100 female) typically developing 4- to 8-year-old children. We examined whether habitual sleep patterns (24-h sleep duration, nap status) were related to children’s performance on a source memory task and hippocampal subfield volumes. Results revealed that, across all participants, after controlling for age, habitual sleep duration was positively related to source memory performance. In addition, in younger (4–6 years, n = 67), but not older (6–8 years, n = 70) children, habitual sleep duration was related to hippocampal head subfield volume (CA2-4/DG). Moreover, within younger children, volume of hippocampal subfields varied as a function of nap status; children who were still napping (n = 28) had larger CA1 volumes in the body compared to children who had transitioned out of napping (n = 39). Together, these findings are consistent with the hypothesis that habitually napping children may have more immature cognitive networks, as indexed by hippocampal integrity. Furthermore, these results shed additional light on why sleep is important during early childhood, a period of substantial brain development.

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Nature Publishing Group
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Scientific Reports
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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