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Quan Wang, Jantina Bolhuis, Constantin Rothkopf, Thorsten Kolling, Monika Knopf, Jochen Triesch; Infants in Control - Rapid Learning of Action Outcomes by 6 and 8-Month-Olds in a Gaze-Contingent Paradigm. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):922. doi: 10.1167/13.9.922.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Infants' poor motor abilities limit their interactions with the environment and render studying infant cognition notoriously difficult. Exceptions are eye movements, which reach high accuracy early, but generally do not allow manipulation of the physical environment. In this study, we employ a gaze-contingent paradigm using real-time eye tracking to put 6- and 8-month-old infants in direct control of their visual surroundings. We use this paradigm to study the fundamental problem of discovery of agency by allowing the infant to change a central image on a screen by looking at a peripheral red disc, which functions as a switch. We demonstrate that infants quickly learn to perform eye movements to trigger the appearance of new stimuli and that they anticipate the consequences of their actions in as few as 3 trials. Interestingly, the infants perform better than a majority of adult subjects tested under identical conditions. Our findings show that infants can rapidly discover new ways of controlling their environment. We suggest that gaze-contingent paradigms offer effective new ways for studying many aspects of infant learning and cognition in an interactive fashion and provide new opportunities for behavioral training and treatment in infants.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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