The Effect of Sleep on Repetition Priming




Madden-Rusnak, Anna

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Repetition priming is a type of implicit memory in which previous exposure to a stimulus facilitates more efficient processing of that stimulus at later presentations. This facilitation is simultaneously accompanied by a decrement in processing for stimuli that are similar, but not identical to the primed stimulus. This is called the antipriming effect. Sleep-dependent memory consolidation is the process by which recently learned information is strengthened during sleep and can occur at both synaptic and systems levels. Synaptic consolidation during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in particular has been shown to enhance repetition priming effects. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of an afternoon nap on priming and antipriming effects. The current study had four phases that included first presenting 50 audio recordings of the names of common objects one at a time while participants judged how much they liked or disliked that object. In the next phase, participants were presented with 100 common object images one at a time for 15 ms each. Participants were instructed to identify the object as quickly and as accurately as possible. In the third phase, participants were presented with another set of 50 object images one at a time, and similar to the first phase, they were asked to report how much they liked or disliked what the object represented. Following the third phase, there was a break in which participants either remained in the lab and took a 90-minute nap (sleep group) or left the lab and were instructed not to sleep for the same amount of time (wake group). Following the break, participants were presented with 100 object images one at a time for 15 ms each and like the second phase, participants were instructed to identify the presented object as quickly and as accurately as possible. Half of the object images presented were previously presented in the third phase and therefore acted as the primed stimuli. The remaining 50 object images were not previously shown and thus acted as the antiprimed stimuli. Priming and antipriming effects in the response time measure were larger in the sleep group than in the wake group. However, this effect was not mediated by REM sleep. Additionally, there were no significant correlations between time spent asleep and the magnitude of priming or antipriming effects. This study replicates and broadens previous findings by demonstrating that sleep during an afternoon nap enhance priming effects and this is the first study to show that sleep also enhances antipriming effects.



Priming, Antipriming, Sleep-dependent, Memory consolidation


Madden-Rusnak, A. (2020). <i>The effect of sleep on repetition priming</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI