The perceptual origins of the abstract same/different concept in human infants

Addyman, Caspar and Mareschal, Denis. 2010. The perceptual origins of the abstract same/different concept in human infants. Animal Cognition, 13(6), pp. 817-833. ISSN 1435-9448 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Very few experiments have studied the two item same/different relation in young human infants. This contrasts with an extensive animal literature. We tested young infants with two novel tasks designed specifically to provide convergent comparative measures. Each infant completed both tasks allowing an assessment of their understanding of the abstract concept rather than task-specific abilities. In a looking time task with photographic stimuli, we found that 8-month-olds are sensitive to the relation but 4-month-olds are not. The second task used an anticipatory eye movement paradigm with simple geometric stimuli. On each trial, two colored shapes appear and moved upwards behind an occluder. They reappeared on either the upper left or right depending on the relation between them. Infants at both ages learned and generalized the dependency but only for the different relation. These results show that human infants can learn the same/different concept but that, in strong continuity with animal results, their abilities are firmly grounded in perception.

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Additional Information:

Support for this research comes from European Commission Framework 6 NEST contracts 029088
and 516542. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Concept learning, Human infants, Same/different

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26 June 2010Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Jan 2016 15:38

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 12:48

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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