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The effect of learning experiences and context on infant imitation and generalization

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Over the first years of life, infants gradually develop the ability to retrieve their memories across cue and contextual changes. Whereas maturational factors drive some of these developments in memory ability, experiences occurring within the learning event may also impact infants' ability to retrieve memories in new situations. In 2 experiments we examined whether it was possible to facilitate 12-month-old infants' generalization of learning in the deferred imitation paradigm by varying experiences before or during the demonstration session, or during the retention interval. In Experiment 1, altering the length, timing, or variability of training had no impact on generalization; infants showed a low, but consistent level of memory retrieval. In Experiment 2, infants who experienced a unique context for encoding and retrieval exhibited generalization; infants who experienced the context prior to the demonstration session, or during the retention interval, did not. Specificity is a robust feature of infant memory and is not substantially altered by encoding experiences in an observational learning paradigm. Previous history with a learning environment can, however, impact the flexibility of memory retrieval.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Jones, E. J. H., & Herbert, J. S. (2008). The effect of learning experiences and context on infant imitation and generalization. Infancy, 13(6), 596-619. doi:10.1080/15250000802458773

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-57049125651

Start Page


  • 596

End Page


  • 619

Volume


  • 13

Issue


  • 6

Abstract


  • Over the first years of life, infants gradually develop the ability to retrieve their memories across cue and contextual changes. Whereas maturational factors drive some of these developments in memory ability, experiences occurring within the learning event may also impact infants' ability to retrieve memories in new situations. In 2 experiments we examined whether it was possible to facilitate 12-month-old infants' generalization of learning in the deferred imitation paradigm by varying experiences before or during the demonstration session, or during the retention interval. In Experiment 1, altering the length, timing, or variability of training had no impact on generalization; infants showed a low, but consistent level of memory retrieval. In Experiment 2, infants who experienced a unique context for encoding and retrieval exhibited generalization; infants who experienced the context prior to the demonstration session, or during the retention interval, did not. Specificity is a robust feature of infant memory and is not substantially altered by encoding experiences in an observational learning paradigm. Previous history with a learning environment can, however, impact the flexibility of memory retrieval.

Publication Date


  • 2008

Citation


  • Jones, E. J. H., & Herbert, J. S. (2008). The effect of learning experiences and context on infant imitation and generalization. Infancy, 13(6), 596-619. doi:10.1080/15250000802458773

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-57049125651

Start Page


  • 596

End Page


  • 619

Volume


  • 13

Issue


  • 6