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Volume 2 Issue 1 (March 1999), Pages 1-113

Long‐term memory, forgetting, and deferred imitation in 12‐month‐old infants (pages 102-113)

Long‐term recall memory, as indexed by deferred imitation, was assessed in 12‐month‐old infants. Independent groups of infants were tested after retention intervals of 3  min, 1 week and 4 weeks. Deferred imitation was assessed using the ‘observation‐only’ procedure in which infants were not allowed motor practice on the tasks before the delay was imposed. Thus, the memory could not have been based on re‐accessing a motor habit, because none was formed in the first place. After the delay, memory was assessed either in the same or a different environmental context from the one in which the adult had originally demonstrated the acts. In Experiments 1 and 3, infants observed the target acts while in an unusual environment (an orange and white polka‐dot tent), and recall memory was tested in an ordinary room. In Experiment 2, infants observed the target acts in their homes and were tested for memory in a university room. The results showed recall memory after all retention intervals, including the 4 week delay, with no effect of context change. Interestingly, the forgetting function showed that the bulk of the forgetting occurred during the first week. The findings of recall memory without motor practice support the view that infants as young as 12 months old use a declarative (nonprocedural) memory system to span delay intervals as long as 4 weeks.

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