PSY 482: Memory & Amnesia
Critical Analysis #3: Leading Discussion
Contextual Constraints on Memory Retrieval at Six Months
Dianne Borovsky and Carolyn Rovee-Collier
• Context: all aspects of the internal or external environment that are present during a task but are not central to its characteristics or demands
o Extrinsic Context: “…environmental surround in which some event exists or occurs, and it contains no implication that the context or the environment influences that event or target item in any significant way”
o Intrinsic Context: stimulation in which an event or target item is immediately embedded and which give meaning to, interact with, or influences the perception of the event or some of its components
• Extrinsic context has not received attention. Why?
o There is this widely accepted belief that infants’ brains are too immature to store information about the physical environment prior to the 8th or 9th postnatal month.
• Studies with 3-month-olds have shown otherwise.
o Infants activated a crib mobile (nominal cue) in presence of cloth line (context) over crib rails either in the same or different contexts. After 3 to 7 days, change in context disrupted retention but not after 1 day.
o Showing them that 1st day context reactivated their memory.
• Overall this means: at 3 months, infants encode physical setting and that information helps serve a retrieval cues – especially after long delays.
Why 6 month olds?
• At 6 months, learning is more rapid, new memories are remembered longer, and forgotten memories are reactivated more quickly; require more specific contexts.
o Hebb’s Law
• At this age, infants exploit environmental cues as landmarks (for spatial navigation).
• Also, as children get older, they have more depth perception...