Tests of the Intersensory Redundancy Hypothesis across early postnatal development

Jimena Vaillant-Mekras, Florida International University


The Intersensory Redundancy Hypothesis (IRH; Bahrick & Lickliter, 2000, 2002, 2012) predicts that early in development information presented to a single sense modality will selectively recruit attention to modality-specific properties of stimulation and facilitate learning of those properties at the expense of amodal properties (unimodal facilitation). Vaillant (2010) demonstrated that bobwhite quail chicks prenatally exposed to a maternal call alone (unimodal stimulation) are able to detect a pitch change, a modality-specific property, in subsequent postnatal testing between the familiarized call and the same call with altered pitch. In contrast, chicks prenatally exposed to a maternal call paired with a temporally synchronous light (redundant audiovisual stimulation) were unable to detect a pitch change. According to the IRH (Bahrick & Lickliter, 2012), as development proceeds and the individual's perceptual abilities increase, the individual should detect modality-specific properties in both nonredundant, unimodal and redundant, bimodal conditions. However, when the perceiver is presented with a difficult task, relative to their level of expertise, unimodal facilitation should become evident. The first experiment of the present study exposed bobwhite quail chicks 24 hr after hatching to unimodal auditory, nonredundant audiovisual, or redundant audiovisual presentations of a maternal call for 10min/hr for 24 hours. All chicks were subsequently tested 24 hr after the completion of the stimulation (72 hr following hatching) between the familiarized maternal call and the same call with altered pitch. Chicks from all experimental groups (unimodal, nonredundant audiovisual, and redundant audiovisual exposure) significantly preferred the familiarized call over the pitch-modified call. The second experiment exposed chicks to the same exposure conditions, but created a more difficult task by narrowing the pitch range between the two maternal calls with which they were tested. Chicks in the unimodal and nonredundant audiovisual conditions demonstrated detection of the pitch change, whereas the redundant audiovisual exposure group did not show detection of the pitch change, providing evidence of unimodal facilitation. These results are consistent with predictions of the IRH and provide further support for the effects of unimodal facilitation and the role of task difficulty across early development.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Vaillant-Mekras, Jimena, "Tests of the Intersensory Redundancy Hypothesis across early postnatal development" (2012). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3541825.