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J Exp Child Psychol. 2002 Feb;81(2):194-215.

The development of visual search in infants and very young children.

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Department of Psychology, Binghamton University, NY 13902-6000, USA.


In two experiments, 90 1- to 3-year-olds were trained in a new nonverbal task to touch a video screen that displayed a unique target resembling a popular television character. The target appeared among varying numbers of distractors that resembled another familiar television character and was either a uniquely colored shape (the feature search task) or a unique color-shape combination (the conjunction search task). Each correct response triggered a sound and produced four animated objects on the screen. Irrespective of age and experimental design (between-subjects or within-subjects), children's reaction time (RT) patterns resembled those obtained from adults in corresponding search tasks: The RT slope for feature search was flat and independent of distractor number, whereas the RT slope for conjunction search increased linearly with distractor number. These results extend visual search effects found with adults to infants and very young children and suggest that the basic perceptual processes underlying visual search are qualitatively invariant over ontogeny.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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