Rebecca Gomez

Rebecca Gomez's picture
Real name: 
Professor, Cognition/Neural Systems
Director, Child Cognition Lab

BA 1985 Philosophy, New Mexico State University
MA 1989 Experimental Psychology, New Mexico State University
Ph.D. 1995 Experimental Psychology, New Mexico State University

(520) 621-7432
Psychology 442
Research Interests: 
  • Studying infant and child language acquisition
  • Investigating how sleep impacts learning and memory in infants and young children
  • Understanding developmental cognitive neuroscience

I study how infants, children and adults learn language; how their learning is improved by sleep; how they connect learning experiences across time and how the developing brain supports language acquisition.  

I also study the memory processes that enable learners to update their memories with new information.  Many of these processes are used throughout the lifespan so I conduct studies with learners of different ages to better understand how memory processes are supported by the brain and how they change with development.

Selected Publications: 

Refereed journal articles (published or accepted in final form)

Note on authorship: Starting with papers published in 2013, my roles as first or last author denote an anchor role on the paper.

Werchan, D., Kim, J-S, Gómez, R. L. (2020). A Daytime Nap Combined with Nighttime Sleep Promotes Learning in Toddlers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Frost, R. L. A., Dunn, K., Christiansen, M. H., Gómez, R. L., & Monaghan, P. (2020). Exploring the “anchor word” effect in infants: Segmentation and categorisation of speech with and without high frequency words. PLOS.

Simon, K. C., Nadel, L., & Gómez, R. L. (2020). Parameters of memory reconsolidation: Learning mode influences likelihood of memory modification. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, section Learning and Memory.

Simon, K. C., Gómez, R. L., & Nadel, L. (2020). Sleep’s role in memory reconsolidation. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

Bryant, N., Nadel, L., Gómez, R. L. (2020). Associations between sleep and episodic memory updating. Hippocampus.

Spanò, G., Gómez, R. L., Demara, B. I., Alt, M., Cowen, S. L., & Edgin, J. O. (2018). REM sleep in naps differentially relates to memory consolidation in typical preschoolers and children with Down syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(46), 11844-11849.

Stare, C. J., Gruber, M. J., Nadel, L., Ranganath, C., Gómez, R. L. (2018). Curiosity-driven memory enhancement persists over time but does not benefit from post-learning sleep. Cognitive Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1080/17588928.2018.1513399 

Gonzales, K., Gerken, LA & Gómez, R. L. (2018). How who is talking matters as much as what they say to infant language learners. Cognitive Psychology, 206, 1-20.

Simon, K., Gómez, R. L., Nadel, L. (2018). Losing memories during sleep after targeted memory reactivation. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Plante, E., & Gómez, R. L. (2018). Learning without trying: The clinical relevance of statistical learning. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 49, 710-722.

Simon, K., Werchan, D., Goldstein, M., Sweeney, L., Nadel, L., Bootzin, R. R., & Gómez, R. L., (2017).  Sleep and statistical language learning: Insights into cortical development and retention in very young infants. Brain and Language, 167, 3-12.

Simon, K., Gómez, R.L., Nadel, L., Scalfe, P. (2017). Brain correlates of memory reconsolidation: A role for the TPJ. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Sandoval, M., LeClerc, J., & Gómez, R. L. (2017). Words to sleep on: Naps facilitate verb generalization in habitually and nonhabitually napping preschoolers. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.12723.

Gómez, R. L. (2017). Do infants retain the statistics of a statistical learning experience? Insights from a developmental cognitive neuroscience perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B. 372: 20160054.

Gómez, R.L. & Edgin, J.O. (2016). The extended trajectory of hippocampal development: implications for early memory development and disorder. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 57-69. DOI information: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.08.009

Gordon, K.R., McGregor, K.K., Waldier, B., Curran, M., Gómez, R.L., Samuelson, L.K. (2016). Preschool Children’s Memory for Word Forms Remains Stable Over Several Days, but Gradually Decreases after Six Months. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences, 7, Article 1439.

Sandoval, M., & Gómez, R. L. (2016). Overriding the metrical bias with lexical information: English-learning 7.5-month-olds use Mommy to segment iambic words. Language Learning & Development, 12, 398-412.

Bryant, N.B., & Gómez, R.L. (2015). The Teen Sleep Epidemic: What can be done? Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 1, 116-125.

Gómez, R.L. & Edgin, J.O. (2015). Sleep as a window into early neural development: Shifts in sleep-dependent memory formation across early childhood. Child Development Perspectives, 9, 183-189.

Gonzales, K., Gerken, LA & Gómez, R. L. (2015). Does hearing two dialects at different times help infants learn dialect-specific rules? Cognition, 140, 60-71.

Plante, E., Patterson, D., Gómez, R., Almryde, K., Asbjørnsen (2015). The nature of the language input affects brain activation during learning from a natural language. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 17-34.

Werchan, D. M., & Gómez, R. L. (2014). Wakefulness (Not Sleep) Promotes Generalization of Word Learning in 2.5-Year-Old Children. Child Development, 85, 429-436.

Dongaonkar, B., Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., & Nadel, L. (2013). Effects of Psychosocial Stress on Episodic Memory Updating. Psychopharmacology.

Sandoval, M., & Gómez, R. L. (2013). Learning of nonadjacent dependencies in natural and artificial languages. Wires Cognitive Science.

Torkildsen, J. V. K., Dailey, N. S., Aguilar, J. M., Gómez, R. L., Plante, E. (2013). Exemplar variability facilitates rapid learning of an otherwise unlearnable grammar. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 618-629.

2013 Research Paper Award from the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research.

Werchan, D. M., & Gómez, R. L. (2013). An interaction between reinforcement learning and sleep to facilitate transitive inference. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 100, 70-76.

Lany, J. A., Gómez, R. L. (2012). Probabilistically cued patterns trump perfect cues in statistical language acquisition. Language Learning and Development, 9, 66-87.

Nadel, L., Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., & Newman-Smith. K. (2012).  Memory formation, consolidation and transformation. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 1640-1645.

Gómez, R. L., Newman-Smith, K. C., Breslin, J. H., & Bootzin, R. R. (2011).  Sleep, memory, and learning in children.  In B. Stickgold (Ed.) Learning, memory & sleepSleep Medicine Clinics, 6, 45-57.

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R. L., & Nadel, L. (2011). Episodic memory updating: the role of context familiarity. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 787-797.

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., Bootzin, R., & Nadel, L. (2009).  Nap-dependent learning in infants. Developmental Science, 12, 1007-1012.1

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., & Nadel, L. (2009). Episodic Memory Reconsolidation: Updating or Source Confusion? Memory, 17, 502-510.

Lany, J. A., Gómez, R. L. (2008). Twelve-Month-Olds Benefit from Prior Experience in Statistical Learning. Psychological Science, 19, 1247-1252.

Hupbach, A., Hardt, O., Gómez, R., Nadel, L. (2008). The dynamics of memory: Context-dependent updating.  Learning & Memory, 15, 574-579.

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., Hardt, O., & Nadel, L. (2007). Reconsolidation of episodic memories:  A subtle reminder triggers integration of new information.  Learning & Memory, 14, 47-53.

Lany, J. A., Gómez, R. L., & Gerken, L.A. (2007).  The role of prior experience in language acquisition.  Cognitive Science, 31, 481-508.

Gómez, R. L., Bootzin, R., & Nadel, L. (2006).  Naps promote abstraction in language learning infants. Psychological Science, 17, 670-674.

Grunow, H., *Spaulding, T. J., Gómez, R. L. & Plante, E. (2006).  The effects of variation on learning word order rules by adults with and without language-based learning disabilities. Journal of Communication Disorders, 39, 158-170. PMID: 16376369

Gómez, R. L. & Maye, J.  (2005).  The developmental trajectory of nonadjacent dependency learning. Infancy, 7, 183-206.

Gómez, R. L. & †LaKusta, L. (2004).  A first step in form-based category abstraction by 12-month-old infants. Developmental Science, 7, 567-580.

Gómez, R. L. (2002).  Variability and detection of invariant structure.  Psychological Science, 13, 431-436.

Plante, E., Gómez, R., & Gerken, L. A. (2002).  Sensitivity to word order cues by normal and language/learning disabled adults.  Journal of Communication Disorders, 35, 453-462.

Gómez, R. L., Gerken, L., & Schvaneveldt, R. W.  (2000). The basis of transfer in artificial grammar learning.  Memory & Cognition, (28) 253-263.

Gómez, R. L., & Gerken, L. A. (2000).  Infant artificial language learning and language acquisition.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences (4,) 178-186.

Thompson, L. A., Gómez, R. L., Schvaneveldt, R. W. (2000).  The salience of temporal cues in the developing structure of event knowledge.  American Journal of Psychology, 113, 591-619.

Gómez, R. L. & Gerken, L. A.  (1999).  Artificial grammar learning by one-year-olds leads to specific and abstract knowledge.  Cognition, 70, 109-135.

Schvaneveldt, R. W. & Gómez, R. L.  (1998). Attention and probabilistic sequence learning. Psychological Research, 61, 175-190.

Schvaneveldt, R. W., Reid, G. B, Gómez, R. L., & Rice, S. (1998).  Modeling mental workload.  Cognitive Technology, 3, 19-31.

Gómez, R. L. (1997).  Transfer and complexity in artificial grammar learning.  Cognitive Psychology, 33, 154-207.

Gómez, R. L., Hadfield, O. D., & Housner, L. D. (1996). Conceptual maps and simulated teaching episodes as indicators of competence in teaching elementary mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(3), 572.

Gómez, R., Schvaneveldt, R., & Staudenmayer, H. (1996).  Assessing beliefs about environmental illness/multiple chemical sensitivity.  Journal of Health Psychology, 1(1), 107-123.

Gómez, R. L. & Schvaneveldt, R. W. (1994).  What is learned from artificial grammars?  Transfer tests of simple associative knowledge.  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20(2), 396-410.

Housner, L. D., Gómez, R. L., & Griffey, D. C. (1993). Pedagogical knowledge structures in prospective teachers: Relationships to performance in a teaching methodology course. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64(2), 167-177.

Housner, L. D., Gómez, R. L., & Griffey, D. C. (1993). A pathfinder analysis of pedagogical knowledge structures: A follow-up investigation. Research quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64(3), 291-299.


Chapters in scholarly books

Gómez, R.L. (2020). Learning in Infancy. In: Benson, J.B. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, 2nd edition. vol. 2, Elsevier, pp. 249 - 259.

Esterline, Katherine & Gómez, R. L., & (in press). Sleep in infancy and early childhood. In J. Benson & S. Johnson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development. Biological: Brain and Physical/Motor, pp. xx-xx.  Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press.

Gómez, R. L., & Esterline, Katherine (2019). A role for sleep in understanding language acquisition. In J. Horst & J. von Koss Torkildsen (Eds.), International Handbook on Language Development.

Sweeney, L. & Gómez, R. L. (2018). Statistical learning. In S. Rueschmeyer & G. Gaskell (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics.

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., & Nadel, L. (2015). Memory Reconsolidation. In D. R. Addis, M. Barense, & A. Duarte (Eds.), The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Memory. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 244-264.

Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., & Nadel. L. (2013). Episodic memory reconsolidation: an update. In C. Alberini (Ed.), Memory Reconsolidation (pp. 233-246). Elsevier.

Nadel, L., Hupbach, A., Gómez, R., Newman-Smith, K. (2012). Memory Formation, Consolidation and Transformation, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 1640-1645.

Sandoval, M., Gonzales, K., & Gómez, R. L. (2012). The road to word class acquisition is paved with statistical and sound cues.  In P. Rebuschat & J. Williams (Eds.) Statistical Learning and Language Acquisition, pp. 145-170. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter Press.

Gómez, R. L. (2011).  Memory, sleep and generalization in language acquisition.  In I. Arnon & E. Clark (Eds.) Experience, Variation, and Generalization: Learning a First Language (Trends in Language Acquisition Research), pp. 261-276. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Lany, J. A., & Gómez, R. L. (2010). Prior experience shapes abstraction and generalization in language acquisition. In M. Banich & D. Caccamise (Eds.), Optimizing Generalization of Knowledge: Multidiscipinary Perspectives, pp. 113-134. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Gerken, L. A., Wilson, R., Gómez, R., & Nurmsoo, E. (2009). The relation between linguistic analogies and lexical categories. In J. P. Blevins & J. Blevins (Eds.), Analogy in Grammar: Form and Acquisition, pp. 101-117. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gómez, R. L. (2009).  Learning.  In J. Benson & M. Haith (Eds.), Language, Memory, and Cognition in Infancy and Early Childhood, pp. 290-301.  Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press

Gómez, R. L. (2009). Processing constraints on learning. In S. P. Johnson (Ed.), Neoconstructivism: The new science of cognitive development, pp. 195-212. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gómez, R. L. (2008).  Learning.  In M. Haith & J. Benson (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Infant & Early Childhood Development. San Diego: Academic Press, Vol. 2, pp. 213-224.

Nadel, L., Hupbach, A., Hardt, O., & Gómez, R. (2008).  Episodic memory: Reconsolidation.  In E. Dere, J. P. Huston, A. Easton, & L. Nadel, (Eds). Handbook of Episodic Memory Research, pp. 43-56. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press.

Gómez, R. L. (2007).  Statistical learning in infant language development. In M. Gareth Gaskell (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 601-616.

Gómez, R. L. (2006).  Dynamically guided learning.  In M. Johnson & Y. Munakata (Eds.), Attention & Performance XXI: Processes of change in brain and cognitive development, pp. 87-110, Oxford University Press.

Gómez, R. L. & Gerken, L. A. (2001).  Artificial language learning as a means for investigating language  acquisition.  In M. Tomasello & E. Bates (Eds.)  Essential Readings in Language Development.  Oxford/New York: Basil Blackwell. 

1 At the time I published this paper I was still following authorship conventions for psychology rather than neuroscience. I am the anchor author on this paper.


Research Program: