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Infant Visual Attention and Response to Novelty

The study of infant attention and cognition was hampered by early beliefs that the infant’s lack of motor competence reflected an absence of underlying sensory, perceptual, and cognitive processing. For instance, preferences for certain visual patterns over others were thought to require experience and learning to be established. However, through the pioneering work in the “preferential looking” paradigm by Robert Fantz and others in the mid-20th century, it became apparent that even neonates had not only pattern vision but also preferences for certain visual patterns over others, which changed as they matured and developed. Furthermore, studies combining initial familiarization with one visual pattern followed by a paired comparison test of side-by-side familiarized and novel stimuli showed that an infant’s tendency to look at a familiarized ...

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