Publication Details

Taylor, G. & Herbert, J. S. (2014). Infant and adult visual attention during an imitation demonstration. Developmental Psychobiology, 56 (4), 770-782.


Deferred imitation tasks have shown that manipulations at encoding can enhance infant learning and memory performance within an age, suggesting that brain maturation alone cannot fully account for all developmental changes in early memory abilities. The present study investigated whether changes in the focus of attention during learning might contribute to improving memory abilities during infancy. Infants aged 6, 9, and 12 months, and an adult comparison group, watched a video of a puppet imitation demonstration while visual behavior was recorded on an eye tracker. Overall, infants spent less time attending to the video than adults, and distributed their gaze more equally across the demonstrator and puppet stimulus. In contrast, adults directed their gaze primarily to the puppet. When infants were tested for their behavioral recall of the target actions, "imitators" were shown to have increased attention to the person and decreased attention to the background compared to "non-imitators." These results suggest that attention during learning is related to memory outcome and that changes in attention may be one mechanism by which manipulations to the learning event may enhance infant recall memory.



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