Chapter 5: Seeing, Thinking, and Doing in Infancy
o Williams James believed that the world of a newborn is a “big blooming, buzzing confusion”
o Sensation: the processing of basic information from the external world by the sensory
receptors in the sense organs (eyes, ears, skin, etc.) and brain
o Perception: the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information
Preferential-looking technique: a method for studying visual attention in infants that
involves showing infants two patterns or two object at a time to see if the infants
have a preference for one over the other
If an infant looks longer at one of the two stimuli, the researcher can infer that the
baby is able to discriminate between them and has a preference for one over the
Habituation: procedure involves repeatedly presenting an infant with a given
stimulus until the infant’s response to it habituates (declines).
Visual acuity: the sharpness of visual discrimination
o Infants prefer to look at patterns of high visual contrast
o Ex. Checkerboard
Contrast sensitivity: the ability to detect differences in light and dark areas in
a visual pattern
o Immaturity of cones: the light-sensitive neurons that are highly
concentrated in the fovea (the central region of the retina) and are
involved in seeing fine detail and color.
Newborns start visually scanning the environment right away
They are attracted to moving stimuli
Perceptual constancy: the perception of objects as being of constant size,
shape, color, etc., in spite of physical differences in the retinal image of the
Empiricists: our perception of the constant size and shape of objects
develops as a function of experience
Nativists: perceptual regularity stems from inherent properties of the
Visual experience is not necessary for size constancy
Object segregation: the identification of separate objects in a visual array
Common movement: the fact that the two segments always moved
together in the same direction and at the same speed.
Depth Perception: Optical expansion: a depth cue in which an object occludes increasingly more
of the background, indicating that the object is approaching
Binocular disparity: the difference between the retinal image of an object in
each eye that results in two slightly different signals being sent to the brain
Stereopsis: the process by which the visual cortex combines the differing
neural signals cause by binocular disparity, resulting in the perception of
depth. (emerges suddenly around 4 months and is complete within a few
Monocular/ pictorial cues: the perceptual cues of depth (such as relative size
and interposition) that can be perceived by one eye alone.
o Auditory Perception
Auditory localization: perception of the location in space of a sound source
Because they turn their heads very slowly, newborns are most likely to localize the
source of a sound that continues for several seconds.
Infants pay more attention to a consonant version of a piece of music
Infants also respond to rhythm in music- move to the music by bouncing
Infants perceived a melody to be the same regardless of whether it is played
on different instruments, but perceive it to be a different tune if the notes
o Taste and Smell
Smell plays a powerful role in how a variety of infant mammals learn to recognize
Through their oral exploration, babies learn about their own bodies as well as about
the texture, taste, and other properties of the objects they encounter.
As infants gain greater control over their hand and arm movements, manual
exploration increases and gradually takes precedence over oral exploration.
o Intermodal Perception
Intermodal perception: the combining of information from two or more sensory
Infant’s auditory localization: their turning toward a sound they hear indicates that
they expect a sound to be associated with an object.
Link oral and visual experience: looking longer at pacifier they had sucked on; could
visually recognize an object they had experienced only through oral exploration.
Reflexes: innate, fixed patterns of action that occur in response to particular
Grapsing: newborns close their fingers around anything that presses against the
palm of their hand Rooting: when stroked on the cheek near their mouth infants turn their head in the
direction of the touch and open their mouth.
Oral contact with the nipple results in the sucking reflex following by the swallowing
reflex- increase the baby’s chance of getting nourishment and surviving.
o Motor Milestones
Figure on pg. 192
o Current Views of Motor Development
Early motor development results from a confluence of numerous factors that