A visual paired associate learning (vPAL) paradigm to study memory consolidation during sleep

Flavio Jean Schmidig, Maya Geva-Sagiv, Rotem Falach, Sharon Yakim, Yael Gat, Omer Sharon, Itzhak Fried, Yuval Nir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sleep improves the consolidation and long-term stability of newly formed memories and associations. Most research on human declarative memory and its consolidation during sleep uses word-pair associations requiring exhaustive learning. In the present study, we present the visual paired association learning (vPAL) paradigm, in which participants learn new associations between images of celebrities and animals. The vPAL is based on a one-shot exposure that resembles learning in natural conditions. We tested if vPAL can reveal a role for sleep in memory consolidation by assessing the specificity of memory recognition, and the cued recall performance, before and after sleep. We found that a daytime nap improved the stability of recognition memory and discrimination abilities compared to identical intervals of wakefulness. By contrast, cued recall of associations did not exhibit significant sleep-dependent effects. High-density electroencephalography during naps further revealed an association between sleep spindle density and stability of recognition memory. Thus, the vPAL paradigm opens new avenues for future research on sleep and memory consolidation across ages and heterogeneous populations in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


FundersFunder number
Rothschild Foundation
National Science Foundation
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2017628, ERC‐2019‐CoG 864353
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation
Tel Aviv University


    • association
    • discrimination
    • memory
    • recognition
    • sleep
    • sleep consolidation


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