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Visual Attention to Global and Local Stimulus Properties in 6-Month-Old Infants: Individual Differences and Event-Related Potentials


  • The authors wish to thank Kelsie Bottiggi, Kristin Dye, Angela McLemore, and Lindsay Robinson for their assistance with participant recruitment and data collection. We also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on a previous version of this manuscript. We are especially grateful to the parents and infants who participated in this study.


Event-related potentials (ERPs) were utilized in an investigation of 21 six-month-olds’ attention to and processing of global and local properties of hierarchical patterns. Overall, infants demonstrated an advantage for processing the overall configuration (i.e., global properties) of local features of hierarchical patterns; however, processing advantages were found to vary based on individual differences in look duration. Short-looking infants showed differences in the negative central ERP component and the late slow wave (LSW) indicating greater attention to and discrimination of changes in global properties. Analysis of the LSW revealed that long-looking infants discriminated changes in local features, but did not discriminate changes in global properties of visual stimuli. These findings indicate that short- and long-looking infants utilize different approaches when processing hierarchical patterns.