Expectancy learning from probabilistic input by infants.

TitleExpectancy learning from probabilistic input by infants.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRomberg AR, Saffran JR
JournalFront Psychol
Date Published2012

Across the first few years of life, infants readily extract many kinds of regularities from their environment, and this ability is thought to be central to development in a number of domains. Numerous studies have documented infants' ability to recognize deterministic sequential patterns. However, little is known about the processes infants use to build and update representations of structure in time, and how infants represent patterns that are not completely predictable. The present study investigated how infants' expectations fora simple structure develope over time, and how infants update their representations with new information. We measured 12-month-old infants' anticipatory eye movements to targets that appeared in one of two possible locations. During the initial phase of the experiment, infants either saw targets that appeared consistently in the same location (Deterministic condition) or probabilistically in either location, with one side more frequent than the other (Probabilistic condition). After this initial divergent experience, both groups saw the same sequence of trials for the rest of the experiment. The results show that infants readily learn from both deterministic and probabilistic input, with infants in both conditions reliably predicting the most likely target location by the end of the experiment. Local context had a large influence on behavior: infants adjusted their predictions to reflect changes in the target location on the previous trial. This flexibility was particularly evident in infants with more variable prior experience (the Probabilistic condition). The results provide some of the first data showing how infants learn in real time.

Alternate JournalFront Psychol
PubMed ID23439947
PubMed Central IDPMC3578736
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
T32 HD007475 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States