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Effects of joint attention on long-term memory in 9-month-old infants: an event-related potentials study


Franziska Kopp, Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Germany; e-mail:


Joint attention develops during the first year of life but little is known about its effects on long-term memory. We investigated whether joint attention modulates long-term memory in 9-month-old infants. Infants were familiarized with visually presented objects in either of two conditions that differed in the degree of joint attention (high versus low). EEG indicators in response to old and novel objects were probed directly after the familiarization phase (immediate recognition), and following a 1-week delay (delayed recognition). In immediate recognition, the amplitude of positive slow-wave activity was modulated by joint attention. In the delayed recognition, the amplitude of the Pb component differentiated between high and low joint attention. In addition, the positive slow-wave amplitude during immediate and delayed recognition correlated with the frequency of infants’ looks to the experimenter during familiarization. Under both high- and low-joint-attention conditions, the processing of unfamiliar objects was associated with an enhanced Nc component. Our results show that the degree of joint attention modulates EEG during immediate and delayed recognition. We conclude that joint attention affects long-term memory processing in 9-month-old infants by enhancing the relevance of attended items.

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