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Infant explicit memory development: a review of paradigms

By M.E. Schüssel


The aim of this thesis is to review the current knowledge on infant explicit memory development and to describe and compare the different experimental methods. The following three frequently used experimental paradigms are presented to study infant explicit memory: the visual paired-comparison task, the mobile conjugate paradigm, and the deferred imitation paradigm. These paradigms are assessed based on two criteria, the amnesia and the parameter filter. Based on consistent findings with these paradigms, four principles that influence the development of infant explicit memory have been identified and will be discussed: (i) long-term retention, (ii) speed of encoding, and (iii) contextual flexibility increase with increasing age and (iv) reactivation reminders become more effective with increasing age. Infantile amnesia is also discussed in relation to a better understanding of infant explicit memory development. Although challenging, a predominant view is emerging that the explanation of this phenomenon lies within quantitative age-related memory developments and the acquisition of language rather than a qualitative shift of memory systems. A large body of research has been conducted on the continuing development of explicit memory into semantic and episodic memory. However, the field is plagued with a lack of nonverbal paradigms to study these subsystems separately and an inconsequent use of terminology. It can be concluded that infant explicit memory development remains a challenging and much debated subject. More progress can be obtained with the development of new nonverbal paradigms to monitor the continuing development of explicit memory to episodic and semantic memory from early infancy to childhood for a better understanding of the principles and development of infant explicit memory

Topics: Geneeskunde, explicit memory, development, infants, visual paired-comparison task, deferred imitation paradigm, mobile conjugate paradigm, infantile amnesia
Year: 2009
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