Generalization of learning in three-and-a-half-month-old infants on the basis of amodal relations

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Infants of 3.5 months (N = 124) were given the opportunity to learn to relate two objects and their natural, distinctive sounds during a training phase. The objects and sounds were united by temporal synchrony and amodal audiovisual information specifying object composition. Infants then participated in one of three types of transfer tests (requiring low, moderate, or high degrees of generalization) to measure the extent to which intermodal knowledge generalized to a new task and across events (familiar events; change in color/shape; change in substance, motion, and color/shape). Results indicated that infants tested with the familiar events and with events of a new color/shape showed learning and transfer of knowledge. In contrast, infants tested with events of a new substance, motion, and color/shape showed no generalization of learning. Thus, infants of 3.5 months appear to show a moderate degree of generalization of intermodal knowledge across events. Although this knowledge is not restricted to the events of original learning, it cannot yet be flexibly extended across a variety of contexts. © 2002 by the Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.



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