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The truth is in the eye of the beholder: A novel infant working memory task based on predictive choice

Dr. Zsuzsa Kaldy

Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

University of Massachusetts, Boston, Department of Psychology

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Visual Working Memory (VWM) for objects and their locations underlies our ability to represent, learn, and reason about the visual environment. Every time an infant gazes after a toy that rolled away or a toddler sorts colorful buttons into little boxes, the knowledge of what is where is paramount. We tested 7- to 10-month-old infants' VWM capacity for object/location bindings - what is where - with a novel paradigm that used gaze-contingent rewards and measured infants' anticipatory gaze responses (using a Tobii T120 eye tracker). Compared to Violation-of-Expectation paradigms that measure passive gaze responses to novelty, our paradigm presents a more challenging, but more ecologically relevant test of VWM, as it measures the ability to make predictions based on remembered information. As well, this paradigm can be readily ‘scaled-up’ to test toddlers or older children (I demonstrate this in a study of 21-month-olds).

In the second part of the talk I will present some preliminary findings using pupillometry in this task. The task-evoked pupil response (TEPR) has long been taken as a sensitive, real-time, involuntary measure of focused attention in adults. We found that the magnitude of the TEPR during memory maintenance predicted task performance in infants. Pupillometry provides an exciting new way to investigate the interactions between infants’ attentive states and their VWM capacity.

Dr. Zsuzsa Kaldy