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Long-term recognition memory for faces assessed by visual paired comparison in 3- and 6-month-old infants

It has been argued that operant conditioning is the only type of long-term memory present in infants prior to 6 months of age. In this study, memory for faces was investigated in 3- and 6-month-old infants with a visual paired-comparison task. In Experiment 1, infants were habituated to a face presented in different poses; recognition was assessed after a 2-min or a 24-hr retention interval. The 6-month-old infants and the male but not the female 3-month-old infants exhibited novelty preferences. A 2nd experiment showed that 3-month-old female infants were delayed relative to male infants in their face-processing ability rather than in their memory capacity. The results of Experiment 3 demonstrated in 3-month-olds an electrophysiological correlate of delayed recognition memory. These findings are discussed in the context of the neural systems thought to be involved in visual recognition memory (but not in procedural memory), namely the limbic system.



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