ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

5pSP39. Do infants remember words from stories?

Elizabeth A. Hohne

Ann Marie Jusczyk

Nancy J. Redanz

Dept. of Psychol., Park Hall, SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260

To what extent do infants extract and remember information from the speech signal? Jusczyk et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 93, 2373(A) (1993)] reported infants listened significantly longer to a familiar than a novel voice suggesting that they developed a representation of that voice. The present study explores infants' ability to remember words from stories they have heard. In this study, 7.5 to 8.25-month-old infants were exposed to recordings of stories read by five different talkers, for 10 days in a 2-week period. Two weeks later, the infants were tested in a head turn preference procedure. Stimuli were lists of words from the stories and lists of novel words, matched for overall phonemic content and general familiarity to infants. The infants listened significantly longer to the familiar words suggesting that they had formed and stored a representation of those words. What is remarkable about these results is that 8-month-old infants apparently retain information about sound patterns of frequently occurring words even when these words are not directly associated with a concrete referent in the infants view. Thus these sound patterns may serve as place holders or slots in the lexicon for meanings to be attached to subsequently. [Work supported by NICHD.]