How the melody facilitates the message and vice versa in infant learning and memory.

Date of Original Version




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Abstract or Description

Infants are often presented with input in which there are multiple related regularities, as is the case in musical input with both melodic and lyrical structure. Adult learners often learn more easily from complex input containing multiple correlated regularities than from simplified input. Do infants also capitalize on complexity, or instead do they benefit from simplified input? In this series of experiments, infants were presented with music in which melodic and lyrical structure predicted each other, or in which only one type of regularity was presented in isolation (melodies alone, or lyrics presented with no melody). Infants learned lyrics more easily when they were paired with a melody than when they were presented alone; similarly, they learned melodies more easily when they were paired with lyrics than when they were presented alone. There are several potential mechanisms that could explain how infants' learning is facilitated by complex input, suggesting important implications for learning in infants' natural environments.




Published In

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169, 225-233.