The Ebb and Flow of Infant Attentional Preferences: Evidence for Long-term Recognition Memory in 3-Month-Olds

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Using paired-comparisons, 3-month-olds (n = 148) recognition of dynamic visual events was investigated after retention intervals of 1 minute, 1 day, and 1 and 3 months (Experiment 1) and 1 minute, 1 day, and 1 week (Experiment 2). Participants were either tested at each retention interval (Multiple Tests) or tested at one interval (Single Test). The proportion of total looking time to the novel event and the length of the longest look to novel and familiar events in the first 15 s of the retention test revealed significant novelty preferences at 1 minute and 1 day and a null preference at 1 week for Multiple- and Single-Test groups. At 1 month, Multiple- (Proportion of Total Looking Time and Longest Look) and Single-Test groups (Longest Look only) preferred the familiar event. The 3-month test revealed a familiarity preference (both measures) for Single- and a null preference for Multiple-Tests groups. This changing pattern of attentional preferences is consistent with models of infant recognition memory in which novelty, familiarity, and null preferences are considered conjointly and hypothesized to reflect the accessibility of novel and familiar event representations in memory. Copyright 1998 Academic Press.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 1998

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