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Infants' Memory for Spoken Words

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Science  26 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5334, pp. 1984-1986
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5334.1984

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Abstract

Infants' long-term retention of the sound patterns of words was explored by exposing them to recordings of three children's stories for 10 days during a 2-week period when they were 8 months old. After an interval of 2 weeks, the infants heard lists of words that either occurred frequently or did not occur in the stories. The infants listened significantly longer to the lists of story words. By comparison, a control group of infants who had not been exposed to the stories showed no such preference. The findings suggest that 8-month-olds are beginning to engage in long-term storage of words that occur frequently in speech, which is an important prerequisite for learning language.

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