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Infancy. 2009;14(1):2-18.

Abstract Rule Learning for Visual Sequences in 8- and 11-Month-Olds.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles.


The experiments reported here investigated the development of a fundamental component of cognition: to recognize and generalize abstract relations. Infants were presented with simple rule-governed patterned sequences of visual shapes (ABB, AAB, and ABA) that could be discriminated from differences in the position of the repeated element (late, early, or nonadjacent, respectively). Eight-month-olds were found to distinguish patterns on the basis of the repetition, but appeared insensitive to its position in the sequence; 11-month-olds distinguished patterns over the position of the repetition, but appeared insensitive to the nonadjacent repetition. These results suggest that abstract pattern detection may develop incrementally in a process of constructing complex relations from more primitive components.

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