- Infants in control: Rapid anticipation of action outcomes in a gaze-contingent paradigm (2012)
- Infants' poor motor abilities limit their interaction with their environment and render studying infant cognition notoriously difficult. Exceptions are eye movements, which reach high accuracy early, but generally do not allow manipulation of the physical environment. In this study, real-time eye tracking is used to put 6- and 8-month-old infants in direct control of their visual surroundings to study the fundamental problem of discovery of agency, i.e. the ability to infer that certain sensory events are caused by one's own actions. We demonstrate that infants quickly learn to perform eye movements to trigger the appearance of new stimuli and that they anticipate the consequences of their actions in as few as 3 trials. Our findings show that infants can rapidly discover new ways of controlling their environment. We suggest that gaze-contingent paradigms offer effective new ways for studying many aspects of infant learning and cognition in an interactive fashion and provide new opportunities for behavioral training and treatment in infants.
- Differences between old and young adults’ ability to recognize human faces underlie processing of horizontal information (2012)
- Recent psychophysical research supports the notion that horizontal information of a face is primarily important for facial identity processes. Even though this has been demonstrated to be valid for young adults, the concept of horizontal information as primary informative source has not yet been applied to older adults’ ability to correctly identify faces. In the current paper, the role different filtering methods might play in an identity processing task is examined for young and old adults, both taken from student populations. Contrary to most findings in the field of developmental face perception, only a near-significant age effect is apparent in upright and un-manipulated presentation of stimuli, whereas a bigger difference between age groups can be observed for a condition which removes all but horizontal information of a face. It is concluded that a critical feature of human face perception, the preferential processing of horizontal information, is less efficient past the age of 60 and is involved in recognition processes that undergo age-related decline usually found in the literature.
- Developmental dynamics of declarative memory from infancy to childhood (2007)
- Deferred imitations assess declarative memory in infants. Many cross-sectional and a few longitudinal studies revealed that, with development, infants learn faster,and retain more target actions over longer retention intervals. Longitudinal stabilities are modest and increase through the second year. To date, there are only few multivariate deferred imitation studies pointing to interactions between declarative memory, language and self-development. However, as these studies applied variable-centered data analysis approaches, the individual stance was not taken into account.Therefore, the present dissertation focuses on the explanation of inter-individual differences of deferred imitation through the second year. In the multivariate, longitudinal Frankfurt Memory Study (FRAMES), declarative memory (deferred imitation), non-declarative memory (train task), as well as cognitive, language, motor, social, emotional and body self-awareness development (Developmental Test for 6-month- to 6-year-olds, ET6-6) were assessed on three measurement occasions (12-, 18- and 24-month-olds). From a psychometric perspective, sound tests for the assessment of deferred imitation in the respective age groups were developed (Paper 1 & 2). Reliability analyses (Paper 3) indicated relatively high short-term-stability for the deferred imitation test (12-month-olds). The co-development of declarative and nondeclarative memory in 12- and 18-month-olds provided evidence for discriminative validity (Paper 4). Longitudinally, deferred imitation performance tremendously increased throughout the second year, and performance was moderately stable between 12 and 18 months and stability increased between 18 and 24 months. Using a person-centered analysis approach (relative difference scores; cluster analysis), developmental subgroups were extracted out of the total sample. These groups differed in terms of mean growth and stability. However, between the first and second measurement occasion, the groups did not differ with respect to motor, cognitive and language development (Paper 5). Using the data of three measurement occasions, subgroups were extracted showing significant differences with respect to language, motor and body self-awareness development (Paper 6). The results are discussed against the background of infancy development theories.