Intersensory redundancy guides attentional selectivity and perceptual learning in infancy.
This study assessed an intersensory redundancy hypothesis, which holds that in early infancy information presented redundantly and in temporal synchrony across two sense modalities selectively recruits attention and facilitates perceptual differentiation more effectively than does the same information presented unimodally. Five-month-old infants' sensitivity to the amodal property of rhythm was examined in 3 experiments. Results revealed that habituation to a bimodal (auditory and visual) rhythm resulted in discrimination of a novel rhythm, whereas habituation to the same rhythm presented unimodally (auditory or visual) resulted in no evidence of discrimination. Also, temporal synchrony between the bimodal auditory and visual information was necessary for rhythm discrimination. These findings support an intersensory redundancy hypothesis and provide further evidence for the importance of redundancy for guiding and constraining early perceptual learning.