Peripheral Stimulus Localization by Infants of Moving Stimuli on Complex Backgrounds


  • [Correction added after online publication 12/8/11: Author Brittany M. Mallin's name was incorrectly listed as "Brittany A. Mallin." This has been corrected.]

should be sent to John E. Richards, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208. E-mail:


This study examined the effect of attention in young infants on the saccadic localization of dynamic peripheral stimuli presented on complex and interesting backgrounds. Infants at 14, 20, and 26 weeks of age were presented with scenes from a Sesame Street movie until fixation on a moving character occurred and then presented with a second segment in the scene in which the character movement occurred in a new location. Localization of the moving character in the new location was faster when the infant was engaged in attention than when inattentive, for scenes in which the character moved from one location to another, or scenes in which the character stopped moving and characters in new locations began moving. However, localization of the character was slower during attention when the first character disappeared and a different character appeared in a new location. We also found a decrease in the linear component of the main sequence in the saccade characteristics over the three testing ages, and attention affected the main sequence for infants at the two oldest ages. These results partially replicate prior findings showing that attention to a focal stimulus affects localization of peripheral stimuli, but suggest that the nature of the stimuli being localized modifies the role of attention in affecting eye movements to peripheral stimuli.