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The Retrieval of Memory in Early Infancy

Carolyn K. Rovee-Collier and Jeffrey W. Fagen
Advances in Infancy Research, 1981, 1: 225-254.


Describes a learning analysis approach to the study of infant memory and the research it has inspired. The retrieval of memory and factors that promote retention is focused on, and forgetting as a retrieval failure rather than a memory deficit is discussed. Evidence is provided for a mechanism by which infants demonstrate the cumulative effects of prior experiences and by which early experiences may influence later behavior. It is argued that infants retrieve memories of past events through encounters with contextual cues that were previously noticed. It is demonstrated that manipulation of these cues can alleviate forgetting after quite lengthy retention intervals. Findings challenge interpretations that presume loss of information from storage and confirm the suggestion of B. A. Campbell and Julian Jaynes that reinstatement is a potent mechanism by which the effects of early experiences continue to influence behavior after lengthy time periods.