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The role of sensory preconditioning in memory retrieval by preverbal infants.

Authors
  • Barr, Rachel1
  • Marrott, Heidi
  • Rovee-Collier, Carolyn
  • 1 Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Learning & behavior
Publication Date
May 2003
Volume
31
Issue
2
Pages
111–123
Identifiers
PMID: 12882370
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Infants' memories are highly specific to their training stimuli; they rarely transfer learned responding. In two experiments, we asked whether sensory preconditioning facilitates the transfer of deferred imitation. In Experiments 1A and 1B, 6-month-olds were simultaneously preexposed to Puppets A and B and then saw target actions modeled on Puppet A. The infants associated the paired puppets and imitated the actions on Puppet B. In Experiment 2, the preexposure procedure was repeated, but the actions were modeled on Puppet A with a toy train in view. The infants also associated Puppet A and the train: Either object effectively reactivated both forgotten memories; thereafter, the infants again imitated the actions on Puppet B. These findings reveal that infants form specific and enduring associations between stimuli they have merely seen together. These associations facilitate the transfer of deferred imitation, both directly and indirectly, through connections to other associations.

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