Long-term transfer of learning from books and video during toddlerhood

Natalie Brito, Rachel Barr, Paula McIntyre, Gabrielle Simcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Television viewing and picture book reading are prevalent activities during toddlerhood, and research has shown that toddlers can imitate from both books and videos after short delays. This is the first study to directly compare toddlers' long-term retention rates for target actions learned from a video or book. Toddlers (N= 158) at 18- and 24-months of age saw an experimenter demonstrating how to make a novel three-step toy rattle via a prerecorded video or a picture book. The toddlers' imitation of the target actions was tested after a specific delay (e.g., 2, 4. weeks), and their performance was compared with that of age-matched controls who did not see a demonstration. The 18-month-olds retained the target actions for 2. weeks, exhibiting forgetting at 4. weeks, whereas the 24-month-olds retained the information for up to 4. weeks, exhibiting forgetting at 8. weeks. Retention rates for books and videos did not differ at either age. These findings demonstrate very impressive retention from a brief two-dimensional media demonstration, and they contribute to our overall understanding of long-term memory processes during infancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-119
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of experimental child psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Generalization
  • Imitation
  • Picture books
  • Retention
  • Television
  • Toddlers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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