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Local Redundancy Governs Infants' Spontaneous Orienting to Visual-Temporal Sequences


  • This research was supported by European Commission Framework 6 NEST Contract 516542 and UK ESRC-ORA RES-360- 25-056. We wish to thank Natasha Kirkham for useful discussion of this research, Sarah Cayless for her help coding the data, and the parents and children who took part in this research. Denis Mareschal is a current recipient of a Wolfson Royal-Society research merit award.


Two experiments demonstrate that 5-month-olds are sensitive to local redundancy in visual-temporal sequences. In Experiment 1, 20 infants saw 2 separate sequences of looming colored shapes that possessed the same elements but contrasting transitional probabilities. One sequence was random whereas the other was based on bigrams. Without any prior exposure, infants looked longer at the random sequence. In Experiment 2, 17 infants looked equally long at bigram- and trigram-based sequences. However, an analysis of local redundancy revealed that in both experiments disengagement from the sequences was governed by local repetitions rather than by global sequence statistics. This finding suggests that a spontaneous sensitivity to stimulus complexity helps orient infants to sequences they can learn from.