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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30884. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030884. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Infants in control: rapid anticipation of action outcomes in a gaze-contingent paradigm.

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1
Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Frankfurt, Germany.

Abstract

Infants' poor motor abilities limit their interaction with their environment and render studying infant cognition notoriously difficult. Exceptions are eye movements, which reach high accuracy early, but generally do not allow manipulation of the physical environment. In this study, real-time eye tracking is used to put 6- and 8-month-old infants in direct control of their visual surroundings to study the fundamental problem of discovery of agency, i.e. the ability to infer that certain sensory events are caused by one's own actions. We demonstrate that infants quickly learn to perform eye movements to trigger the appearance of new stimuli and that they anticipate the consequences of their actions in as few as 3 trials. Our findings show that infants can rapidly discover new ways of controlling their environment. We suggest that gaze-contingent paradigms offer effective new ways for studying many aspects of infant learning and cognition in an interactive fashion and provide new opportunities for behavioral training and treatment in infants.

PMID:
22363507
PMCID:
PMC3281887
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0030884
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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