Across space and time: Infants learn from backward and forward visual statistics


Journal Article


Tummeltshammer, K.S., Amso, D., French, R. M., Kirkham, N.Z




Across space and time: Infants learn from backward and forward visual statistics

Journal / book / conference

Developmental Science, doi:10.1111/desc.12474


This study investigates whether infants are sensitive to backward and forward transitional probabilities within temporal and spatial visual streams. Two groups of 8-month-old infants were familiarized with an artificial grammar of shapes, comprising backward and forward base pairs (i.e. two shapes linked by strong backward or forward transitional probability) and part-pairs (i.e. two shapes with weak transitional probabilities in both directions). One group viewed the continuous visual stream as a temporal sequence, while the other group viewed the same stream as a spatial array. Following familiarization, infants looked longer at test trials containing part-pairs than base pairs, although they had appeared with equal frequency during familiarization. This pattern of looking time was evident for both forward and backward pairs, in both the temporal and spatial conditions. Further, differences in looking time to part-pairs that were consistent or inconsistent with the predictive direction of the base pairs (forward or backward) indicated that infants were indeed sensitive to direction when presented with temporal sequences, but not when presented with spatial arrays. These results suggest that visual statistical learning is flexible in infancy and depends on the nature of visual input.


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