Learning Visual Units After Brief Visual Experience in 10-month-old Infants

Needham, A., Goldstone, R. L., & Wiesen, S. (2014).  Learning Visual Units After Brief Visual Experience in 10-month-old Infants.  Cognitive Science, 38, 1507-1519.

How does perceptual learning take place early in life? Traditionally, researchers have focused on how infants make use of information within displays to organize it, but recently, increasing attention has been paid to the question of how infants perceive objects differently depending upon their recent interactions with the objects. This experiment investigates 10-month-old infants’ use of brief prior experiences with objects to visually organize a display consisting of multiple geometrically-shaped three-dimensional blocks created for this study. After a brief exposure to a multi-part portion of the display, each infant was shown two test events, one of which preserved the unit the infant had seen and the other of which broke that unit. Overall, infants looked longer at the event that broke the unit they had seen prior to testing than the event that preserved that unit, suggesting that infants made use of the brief prior experience to (a) form a cohesive unit of the multi-part portion of the display they saw prior to test and (b) segregate this unit from the rest of the test display. This suggests that infants made inferences about novel parts of the test display based on limited exposure to a subset of the test display. Like adults, infants learn features of the three-dimensional world through their experiences in it.

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