Find Your Manners: How Do Infants Detect the Invariant Manner of Motion in Dynamic Events?


  • This research was supported by an NSF grant (SBR9615391) and an NIH grant (RO1HD050199) to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta M. Golinkoff. Special thanks go to Anthony Dick and two anonymous reviewers for providing comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We thank Meredith Meyer, Mandy Maguire, Natalie Sheridan, Meredith Jones, Amanda Brandone, Wendy Shallcross, Katrina Ferrara, Russell Richie, Aimee Stahl, and the numerous undergraduate and graduate students at the Temple University Infant Laboratory and the University of Delaware Infant Language Project for their assistance in data collection and data coding. Finally, we would also like to express our deepest gratitude to all of the families that participated in these studies.

concerning this article should be addressed to Shannon M. Pruden, Department of Psychology, Florida International University, DM 296A, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199. Electronic mail may be sent to


To learn motion verbs, infants must be sensitive to the specific event features lexicalized in their language. One event feature important for the acquisition of English motion verbs is the manner of motion. This article examines when and how infants detect manners of motion across variations in the figure’s path. Experiment 1 shows that 13- to 15-month-olds (N = 30) can detect an invariant manner of motion when the figure’s path changes. Experiment 2 reveals that reducing the complexity of the events, by dampening the figure’s path, helps 10- to 12-month-olds (N = 19) detect the invariant manner. These findings suggest that: (a) infants notice event features lexicalized in English motion verbs, and (b) attention to manner can be promoted by reducing event complexity.