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Dev Psychol. 2006 Sep;42(5):900-12.

Make the first move: how infants learn about self-propelled objects.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


In 3 experiments, the author investigated 16- to 20-month-old infants' attention to dynamic and static parts in learning about self-propelled objects. In Experiment 1, infants were habituated to simple noncausal events in which a geometric figure with a single moving part started to move without physical contact from an identical geometric figure that possessed a single static part. Infants were then tested with an event in which the parts of the objects were switched. In Experiments 2 and 3, infants were habituated and tested with identical events except that the part possessed by each object during habitation was switched relative to the first experiment. Results of the experiments revealed that 16-month-olds failed to encode the relation between an object's part and its onset of motion, 18-month-olds were unconstrained in the relations involving self-propulsion that they would encode, and 20-month-olds were constrained in the relations they would encode. The results are discussed with regard to the developmental trajectory of learning about motion properties and the mechanism involved in early concept acquisition.

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