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Exogenous attention influences visual short-term memory in infants

Authors


Shannon Ross-Sheehy, Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, 11 Seashore Hall East, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA; e-mail: shannon-ross@uiowa.edu

Abstract

Two experiments examined the hypothesis that developing visual attentional mechanisms influence infants’ Visual Short-Term Memory (VSTM) in the context of multiple items. Five- and 10-month-old infants (N = 76) received a change detection task in which arrays of three differently colored squares appeared and disappeared. On each trial one square changed color and one square was cued; sometimes the cued item was the changing item, and sometimes the changing item was not the cued item. Ten-month-old infants exhibited enhanced memory for the cued item when the cue was a spatial pre-cue (Experiment 1) and 5-month-old infants exhibited enhanced memory for the cued item when the cue was relative motion (Experiment 2). These results demonstrate for the first time that infants younger than 6 months can encode information in VSTM about individual items in multiple-object arrays, and that attention-directing cues influence both perceptual and VSTM encoding of stimuli in infants as in adults.

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