The Nature of Infants' Visual Expectations for Event Content


Department of Psychology, Centre for Vision Research, Centre for Early Cognition, 333 Behavioral Sciences Building, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario M3J IP3 Canada. E-mail:


Recent studies have revealed that young infants can form expectations for the spatial location of future visual events. Four experiments examined whether 3-month-old infants also form expectations for content features of events, defined as an invariant color combination. Infants viewed a spatially alternating (left–right) sequence of varying pictures in which pictures on one side (invariant colors) always appeared with the same color combination (e.g., red/green), while on the other side (varied colors) the pictures appeared with any of 4 possible color combinations. Results indicated that infants formed a content expectation for the invariant color combination on the invariant side, such that their anticipatory responding was disrupted by a novel color combination event and by a novel pattern event. A dissociation between reactive and anticipatory eye movements in their sensitivity to the content manipulation suggests that infants' expectations for spatial and content information engage somewhat different processes.