Communication-induced memory biases in preverbal infants

TitleCommunication-induced memory biases in preverbal infants
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsYoon, J. M. D., M. H. Johnson, and G. Csibra
Journal titleProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Pages13690 - 13695

Human teaching, a highly specialized form of cooperative information transmission, depends not only on the presence of benevolent communicators in the environment, but also on the preparedness of the students to learn from communication when it is addressed to them. We tested whether 9-month-old human infants can distinguish between communicative and noncommunicative social contexts and whether they retain qualitatively different information about novel objects in these contexts. We found that in a communicative context, infants devoted their limited memory resources to encoding the identity of novel objects at the expense of encoding their location, which is preferentially retained in noncommunicative contexts. We propose that infants' sensitivity to, and interpretation of, the social cues distinguishing infant-directed communication events represent important mechanisms of social learning by which others can help determine what information even preverbal human observers retain in memory.


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Publisher link
Cognitive Development Center (CDC)