Response versus place learning by human infants

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Two cross-sectional studies examined how infants learn the location of visual events. In Exp I, 72 infants of 4, 8, and 12 mo of age learned to turn one way to view a novel pattern. In a subsequent transfer task, they were rotated to face the opposite side of the room. The 4-mo-old Ss tended to err by repeating their previously learned response, but within 16-20 trials their performance was comparable to the higher levels maintained by the older Ss. These results suggest that young infants learn the location of the pattern primarily in terms of response cues, whereas older infants employ both response cues and place cues. Exp II independently assessed the use of response cues and place cues by 96 infants of 4, 8, 12, and 16 mo of age. All Ss were able to rapidly learn and remember the location of novel pattern when they were given response cues. There was a gradual emergence of place-cue use associated with age. It is suggested that the decrease in infant egocentricity in such spatial localization tasks may in fact reflect an age-related increase in the variety of reliable cues responded to by infants. (15 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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