Novelty Preferences in Infancy

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*Division of Developmental Medicine, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience

Brief Description:

The purpose of this study is to learn more about how infants' memory abilities develop over the first year of life. We are particularly interested in infants' preferences for familiar or novel objects. To investigate this, we record infants' brain activity and eye movements while they look at pictures of objects. We are interested in the effect of stimulus discrepancy on infant preferences for novel and familiar objects.

Eligibility for study participation:

  • Infants: 8 months old
  • Born within 2 weeks of due date

Participation Details:

This study involves a single hour-long session at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience. Parents will be with their child at all times. The session will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you and your child.

Research Contact:

Jenny Richmond, Ph.D.

Full Description:

Infants' looking behavior has long been used as an index of their memory. Preferential looking tasks, such as the visual paired-comparison (VPC) procedure, typically involve a familiarization phase in which the infant is shown a pair of identical stimuli until a fixed amount of looking time is accumulated. Following a delay, infants are shown another pair of pictures; this time one is the same as the familiarization stimulus and one is new. Visual behavior is recorded and memory is typically inferred if the infant exhibits a novelty preference, that is, spends more than 50% of the test phase fixating the novel stimulus.

Although infants most commonly exhibit novelty preferences when tested on preferential looking paradigms, sometimes the similarity between objects that we choose to be novel vs familiar influences infants' visual preferences. In this study, we aim to understand the effect of stimulus discrepancy on VPC performance. To do this, we measure both visual behavior and ERPs in response to familiar, discrepant and novel stimuli. This project is unique because it aims to look at the relation between electrophysiological and behavioral indices of memory.

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