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Infant Behav Dev. 2012 Feb;35(1):22-8. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.09.008. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

On the origin of the understanding of time, speed, and distance interrelations.

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Department of Psychology, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


We examined 18- and 24-month-old infants' sensitivity to the functional relationships between time, speed, and distance. The task included a train moving first visibly and then into a tunnel. The movement of the train was always accompanied by a train-characteristic sound signalling the travel duration. After the train concluded its travel, infants were requested to search for it in two possible locations inside the tunnel. Infants' reaching and head turn behavior indicated that 24-month-olds were sensitive to time-speed-distance interrelations, while 18-month-olds showed no such understanding. Reducing occlusion duration (by shortening the tunnel's length) revealed an increase in 18-month-olds' reaching and anticipatory head turns. Results are discussed in terms of the developmental course of the understanding of time-speed-distance interrelations and the strength of infants' representations.

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