Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Developmental.


Orr, R. Robert,




The present study was designed to determine whether delayed recognition memory for visual stimuli was present at birth. It was hypothesized that: (1) newborns would demonstrate delayed recognition memory for both a rotating and stationary Maltese Cross (MC); (2) stimulus movement would influence retention; and (3) various patterns of habituation (c.f., Bornstein & Benasich, 1986) would be observed. Seventy-eight newborns were divided into five delay conditions (0 s, 30 s, 60 s, 90 s, 120 s). Half were habituated to a stationary MC and half to a rotating MC. Following habituation and the delay period, the "habituated" MC was re-presented for 3 trials. The MC was then modified (i.e., (i) direction of rotation was reversed; or (ii) from stationary to rotating) and presented for 3 trials. Measures of stimulus-directed looking and negative state were recorded. The results indicated that newborns in the 90 s and 120 s delay conditions displayed significant increases in looking during the first test trial, but not when looking was averaged across the three test trials. Stimulus movement did not influence retention. Newborns in all five delay conditions increased looking to the modified MC. Finally, the majority of newborns exhibited a fluctuating pattern of habituation, but the patterns did not influence retention. The findings indicate that newborns retain visual information for at least 120 s. However, retrieval appears to degrade after 60 s. Following the longer delay intervals, the first test trial appeared to prime the newborns' long-term memory, permitting successful matching of the "habituated" MC on subsequent trials. Thus, it was concluded that delayed recognition memory for visual stimuli is present at birth. It was argued that the information processing model provides the best explanation for the obtained findings. Behavioural fatigue was ruled out since newborn looking increased to novelty. Furthermore, variable patterns of looking during the habituation phase (i.e., fluctuating) which were present in some newborns was used to argue against a selective receptor model of newborn habituation. The failure to obtain the expected stimulus movement effects was discussed in terms of procedural considerations.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1996 .L36. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 57-07, Section: B, page: 4747. Adviser: R. Robert Orr. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1996.