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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the relations among object search skills, cross-language speech perception, and visual categorization in infancy Lalonde, Christopher Edward


The present research was designed to assess the extent to which three different cognitive/perceptual abilities become integrated during the second half of the first year of life. Forty infants, aged 8 to 10 months, were tested on measures of object search skill, cross-language speech perception, and visual categorization. The object search task tested the infants' ability to retrieve an object, after a 3 second delay, hidden under one of two identical cloths placed in front of the infant. The cross-language speech perception task tested the infants' ability to discriminate both native English (bilabial /ba/ and dental/alveolar /da/) and non-native Hindi (dental /da/ and retroflex /Da/) speech contrasts. The visual categorization task measured the infants' ability to detect and use correlations among the attributes of a set of line drawn stimuli in category formation. Subject performance on the three tasks was examined to test the hypothesis that previously reported changes in task performance occur in synchrony. Results indicate that while infant performance would be expected to change on all three tasks at about 9 months of age, the pattern of individual subjects' performance suggests a systematic relation among the changes. This finding suggests that the acquisition of an ability to mentally coordinate separate sets of information emerges at approximately 9 months of age and permits the expression of at least these three more sophisticated skills. The results raise the possibility that cognitive and perceptual capabilities become related in more substantial ways as the infant develops, allowing increasingly accurate application of these skills to a broader range of cognitive and perceptual phenomena.

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