The ability to remember sequential order information is an important component in the learning and mastery of many complex cognitive skills. Notably, it is critical for learning language. This study investigated whether infants are capable of remembering the order of words in an English sentence and, especially, whether the structure afforded by natural sentential prosody enhances their ability to do so. This study compares 2-montholds' abilities to detect changes in word order, after a 2-min delay, for sequences spoken as a well-formed sentence versus as two unrelated, but well-formed, sentential fragments. The results indicate that infants exposed to the single sentences were able to detect changes in word order. By comparison, infants exposed to the sentential fragments showed no tendency to detect the same word order changes. Thus, even at two months of age, infants are able to remember the order of spoken words when they are embedded within the coherent prosodic structure of a single well-formed sentence.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.