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Sequence Learning in 4-Month-Old Infants: Do Infants Represent Ordinal Information?


  • We thank Jennifer Hughes and Erinn Beck for their assistance and Richard Aslin for his comments on aspects of this research. This work was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R01 HD35849 awarded to the first author.

concerning this article should be addressed to David J. Lewkowicz, Department of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study investigated how 4-month-old infants represent sequences: Do they track the statistical relations among specific sequence elements (e.g., AB, BC) or do they encode abstract ordinal positions (i.e., B is second)? Infants were habituated to sequences of 4 moving and sounding elements—3 of the elements varied in their ordinal position while the position of 1 target element remained invariant (e.g., ABCD, CBDA)—and then were tested for the detection of changes in the target’s position. Infants detected an ordinal change only when it disrupted the statistical co-occurrence of elements but not when statistical information was controlled. It is concluded that 4-month-olds learn the order of sequence elements by tracking their statistical associations but not their invariant ordinal position.