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Welcome to the Visual and Cognitive Development Project

Have you ever wondered:

  • What can my baby see and understand about the world?
  • Can my baby remember certain things?
  • What is my young infant’s ability to learn?

At the project we conduct research that attempts to answer these questions. We conduct research that seeks to understand infants’ visual, attentional and perceptual development. Specific topics include the relation between various cognitive processes in young infants’ formation of future-oriented expectations for forthcoming visual events; the interface between visual expectations and memory processes; development of selective attention; development of object recognition; and the functioning of their long-term memories.

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The development of object recognition (2009).

Gerhardstein, P., Shroff, Dickerson, & Adler, S.A. 2009. The development of object recognition through infancy. In B.C. Glenyn and R.P. Zini (Eds.), New directions in developmental psychobiology. Nova Science Publishers: New York.

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Infants’ visual expectations and the processing of time (2008).

Adler, S.A., Haith, M.M., Arehart, D.M., & Lanthier, E.C. (2008).  Infants’ visual expectations and the processing of timeJournal of Cognition and Development, 9, 1-25.

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Contour integration by 6-month-olds: Discrimination of distinct contour shapes (2008).

Baker, T., Tse, J., Gerhardstein, P.C., & Adler, S.A. (2008).  Contour integration by 6-month-olds: Discrimination of distinct contour shapes.  Vision Research, 48, 136-148 .

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Mobile Conjugate Reinforcement Paradigm

This paradigm is designed to enable the testing of infant’s long-term memory and the perceptual information encoded in those traces.  To this end, the infant’s foot is attached with a ribbon to an overhead crib mobile that displays particular perceptual information.  As the infant kicks, the mobile moves, and the infant learns that his/her kicking is making the mobile move.  During a long-term test that can occur as soon as 1 hour after training and as long as weeks after training, the perceptual information is changed in some manner.  If infants perceptually detect the change, then their current percept will not match what they have in memory and so they will not kick.  In contrast, if they do not perceptually detect the change or no longer have access to the originally encoded perceptual information, then they will kick because there is nothing to discriminate the current mobile percept from the encoded one.

With this paradigm, we can ask many questions about the specificity of infant’s memory, how perception and attention determine the information that initially is encoded in memory, and what perceptual information is retained over the long term.  Together, answers to these questions will enable a better understanding of cognitive development, brain development, infantile amnesia (the inability to remember events from before we were a few years old), and how the infant builds a knowledge base of its world.

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Visual pop-out in infants and adults (2006).

Adler, S.A., & Orprecio, J. (2006). The eyes have it: Visual pop-out in infants and adultsDevelopmental Science, 9, 189-206.

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Visual search and pop-out in infancy (2005).

Adler, S.A. (2005).  Visual search and pop-out in infancy. In L. Itti, G. Rees, and J. Tsotsos (Eds.), The neurobiology of attention. Amsterdam: Elsevier Press.

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Video-based Eye Tracking

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Video-based Infrared Eye Tracking

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Infant expectations for event content (2003).

Adler, S.A., & Haith, M.M. (2003). The nature of infants’ visual expectations for event contentInfancy, 4, 389-421.

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