Mobile Conjugate Reinforcement Paradigm

This paradigm is designed to enable the testing of infant's long-term memory and the perceptual information encoded in those traces.  To this end, the infant's foot is attached with a ribbon to an overhead crib mobile that displays particular perceptual information.  As the infant kicks, the mobile moves, and the infant learns that his/her kicking is making the mobile move.  During a long-term test that can occur as soon as 1 hour after training and as long as weeks after training, the perceptual information is changed in some manner.  If infants perceptually detect the change, then their current percept will not match what they have in memory and so they will not kick.  In contrast, if they do not perceptually detect the change or no longer have access to the originally encoded perceptual information, then they will kick because there is nothing to discriminate the current mobile percept from the encoded one.

With this paradigm, we can ask many questions about the specificity of infant's memory, how perception and attention determine the information that initially is encoded in memory, and what perceptual information is retained over the long term.  Together, answers to these questions will enable a better understanding of cognitive development, brain development, infantile amnesia (the inability to remember events from before we were a few years old), and how the infant builds a knowledge base of its world.