Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Lisa M. Oakes


Previous work has demonstrated that infant visual short-term memory (VSTM) capacity increases dramatically between 6 and 10 months of life (Ross-Sheehy, S., Oakes, L. M., & Luck, S. J. (2003). The development of visual short-term memory capacity in infants. Child Development, 74, 1807-1822). However, it is unclear if this increase is a function of improving memory abilities, or alternatively, if it is a function of improving attentional abilities. Moreover, it is currently unknown if infants, like adults, can use attention to form stable VSTM representations in situations where they would otherwise fail. Four experiments explored the relationship between visual attention and VSTM in 5.5- and 10-month-old infants. Results indicated that 1) 10-month-old infants are able to use attention to selectively encode items into VSTM, 2) this ability does not appear to be present in younger infants, 3) this ability does not appear to interact with the complexity of the test array, and 4) attentional facilitation requires a relatively salient cue. Taken together, these results are the first to demonstrate that infant VSTM representations can be mediated by visual attention, and that this mediation relies on relatively well-developed visual attention mechanisms.


attention, infant, development, vision, short-term memory


74 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 66-74).


Copyright 2005 Shannon Ross-Sheehy

Included in

Psychology Commons