The effects of intersensory redundancy on attention and memory: infants' long-term memory for orientation in audiovisual events

Dev Psychol. 2010 Mar;46(2):428-36. doi: 10.1037/a0018410.


This research examined the effects of bimodal audiovisual and unimodal visual stimulation on infants' memory for the visual orientation of a moving toy hammer following a 5-min, 2-week, or 1-month retention interval. According to the intersensory redundancy hypothesis (L. E. Bahrick & R. Lickliter, 2000; L. E. Bahrick, R. Lickliter, & R. Flom, 2004) detection of and memory for nonredundantly specified properties, including the visual orientation of an event, are facilitated in unimodal stimulation and attenuated in bimodal stimulation in early development. Later in development, however, nonredundantly specified properties can be perceived and remembered in both multimodal and unimodal stimulation. The current study extended tests of these predictions to the domain of memory in infants of 3, 5, and 9 months of age. Consistent with predictions of the intersensory redundancy hypothesis, in unimodal stimulation, memory for visual orientation emerged by 5 months and remained stable across age, whereas in bimodal stimulation, memory did not emerge until 9 months of age. Memory for orientation was evident even after a 1-month delay and was expressed as a shifting preference, from novelty to null to familiarity, across increasing retention time, consistent with Bahrick and colleagues' four-phase model of attention. Together, these findings indicate that infant memory for nonredundantly specified properties of events is a consequence of selective attention to those event properties and is facilitated in unimodal stimulation. Memory for nonredundantly specified properties thus emerges in unimodal stimulation, is later extended to bimodal stimulation, and lasts across a period of at least 1 month.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Age Factors
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology*