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U.W. Bangor - School of Informatics - Mathematics Preprints 2001

Biological and medical statistics


Use of cue configuration geometry for spatial orientation in human infants (Homo sapiens)


Research with both rats and human infants has found that after inertial disorientation, the geometry of the environment is used in preference over distintive featural information during goal localization. These findings have been extended to the geometry of cue configurations in rats, but such studies have yet to be done with human infants. Infants (18-24 months) are presented with one of two conditions. In the Identical condition, 4 identical hiding boxes in a rectangular formation are set within a circular enclosure. In the Distinctive condition, 4 distinctive hiding boxes in a rectangular formation are used. Each infant is presented with four trials in which the parent hides a toy in one of the boxes, turns the child slowly round several times with the infants's eyes covered, and then allows the child to find the toy. Infants searched the goal box and its rotational equivalent significantly more than would be expected by chance in the Identical condition, showing that they were sensitive to the geometric configuration of the array of boxes. Unlike the results of studies using a rectangular enclosure however, in the Distinctive condition, infants searched significantly more often at the correct location, and errors were no greater at the rotationally equivalent box than would be expected by chance. These results are considered within the information-precessing heirarchy framework of Cressant et al. (1999) whereby the geometry of an enclosed environment is retained most easily by mammals, followed by cue configuration and features set at the periphery of space, finally followed by the geometry and features of centrally placed cues.

Published in:

J. of Comparative Psychology 115 (2001) 317-320.

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