Intersensory redundancy enhances memory in bobwhite quail embryos

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Information presented concurrently and redundantly to 2 or more senses (intersensory redundancy) has been shown to recruit attention and promote perceptual learning of amodal stimulus properties in animal embryos and human infants. This study examined whether the facilitative effect of intersensory redundancy also extends to the domain of memory. We assessed bobwhite quail chicks' ability to remember and prefer an individual maternal call presented either unimodally or redundantly and synchronously with patterned light during the period prior to hatching. Embryos provided with unimodal auditory exposure failed to prefer the familiar call over a novel maternal call postnatally at 48 hr and 72 hr following exposure. In contrast, embryos provided with redundant, synchronous audiovisual stimulation significantly preferred the familiar call at 48 hr following exposure, but not at 72 hr. A second experiment provided chicks with a single 10-min refamiliarization with the familiar call at either 48 hr or 72 hr following hatching. Chicks given only unimodal auditory exposure prior to hatching did not appear to benefit from this brief postnatal refamiliarization, showing no preference for the familiar call at either 72 or 96 hr. Chicks that received redundant audiovisual stimulation prenatally showed a significant preference for the familiar call (following the brief reexposure 24 hr earlier) at both 72 and 96 hr of age. These results are the first to demonstrate that redundantly specified information is remembered longer and reactivated more easily than the same information presented unimodally. These findings provide further evidence of the salience of intersensory redundancy in guiding selective attention and perceptual learning during early development. Copyright © 2004, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.



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