The Development of Visual Short-Term Memory Capacity in Infants

Child Dev. Nov-Dec 2003;74(6):1807-22. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-8624.2003.00639.x.


Four experiments assessed visual short-term memory capacity in 4- to 13-month-old infants by comparing their looking to changing and nonchanging stimulus streams presented side by side. In each stream, 1 to 6 colored squares repeatedly appeared and disappeared. In changing streams, the color of a different randomly chosen square changed each time the display reappeared; the colors remained the same in nonchanging streams. Infants should look longer at changing streams, but only if they can remember the colors of the squares. The youngest infants preferred changing streams only when the displays contained one object, whereas older infants preferred changing streams when the displays contained up to 4 objects. Thus, visual short-term memory capacity increases significantly across the first year of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Child Development
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Set, Psychology