The Effect of Retrieval Cues on Visual Preferences and Memory in Infancy: Evidence for a Four-Phase Attention Function

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Bahrick and Pickens (1995) proposed a four-phase model of infant attention, suggesting that recent memories are expressed as a visual preference for novelty, intermediate memories as a null preference, and remote memories as a preference for familiarity. The present study tested a hypothesis generated from this model that a retrieval cue would increase memory accessibility and shift visual preferences toward greater novelty to resemble more recent memories. Results confirmed our predictions. After retention intervals associated with remote memory, previously observed familiarity preferences shifted to null preferences, whereas after a retention interval associated with intermediate memory, the previously observed null preference shifted to a novelty preference. Further, a second experiment found that increasing the exposure to the retrieval cue could shift the familiarity preference to a novelty preference. These findings support the four-phase model of infant attention and suggest that novelty, null, and familiarity preferences lie along a continuum and shift as a function of memory accessibility. © 1997 Academic Press.



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