You Go This Way and I’ll Go That Way: Developmental Changes in Infants’ Detection of Correlations among Static and Dynamic Features in Motion Events



Four experiments utilizing the habituation procedure examined 10- to 18-month-olds’ ability to detect and encode correlations among features in a motion event (N= 136). Infants were habituated to two events in which objects—with distinct parts and a distinct body—moved across a screen along a rectilinear or curvilinear motion path. Infants were then tested with one familiar event and three events in which one feature of the object (parts, body, or motion path) was presented in a novel combination with the other features. The results of the experiments revealed that 10-month-olds process independently static features in an event, but do not process correlations among dynamic features; whereas 14-month-olds detect the correlation between an object's parts and its motion trajectory, but only when the movement of parts is correlated with the motion of the object. Further, the data show that 18-month-olds detect correlations between all three features when the parts of the object move, but they detect only the relation between parts and motion path when the parts do not move. It is proposed that infants develop representations for the static and dynamic properties of objects through a sensitive perceptual system that detects individual features, whole objects, and movement properties, and a domain-general associative learning mechanism that encodes independent features and correlations among features.