Date on Senior Honors Thesis

5-2021

Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name

B.S.

Department

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Infant learning; parent interaction; infant visual attention; Sticky Mittens

Abstract

Infants do not begin intentionally reaching for and grasping objects until around 5 months of age. The sticky mittens paradigm (SM) provides infants the opportunity to manipulate and explore objects on their own. Active SM experience has been shown to lead to positive cognitive outcomes (Libertus & Needham, 2010), including facilitating causal perception (Rakison & Krogh, 2012). While some aspects of SM that contribute to positive outcomes are well understood (e.g., active vs. passive experience), the role of parent interactions has received little attention. In this study, SM training was used to investigate the role that parents play in their infants’ learning during SM. Holt (2016) studied the effects of active vs. passive experience and parent encouragement vs. no parent encouragement on pre-reaching infants’ learning using SM. Holt (2016) found that infants in the active/no encouragement condition exhibited causal perception following SM experience, while infants in the other conditions, including the active/encouragement condition, did not. The present study is a secondary video analysis of Holt (2016), comparing infants’ visual attention and parents’ behaviors during the SM session in the active conditions. Given the findings of Holt (2016), we hypothesized that parent interactions have a negative effect on infant attention to objects during SM, which is necessary for infants’ learning. However, no difference was found between the two conditions for average bout duration on task or for proportion of clean attention. These findings suggest other aspects of parent interactions during SM might affect infants’ learning, which future research should investigate.

Lay Summary

Infants do not begin intentionally reaching for and grasping objects until around 5 months of age. The sticky mittens paradigm (SM) provides infants the opportunity to manipulate and explore objects on their own. Active SM experience has been shown to lead to positive cognitive outcomes (Libertus & Needham, 2010), including facilitating causal perception (Rakison & Krogh, 2012). While some aspects of SM that contribute to positive outcomes are well understood (e.g., active vs. passive experience), the role of parent interactions has received little attention. In this study, SM training was used to investigate the role that parents play in their infants’ learning during SM. Holt (2016) studied the effects of active vs. passive experience and parent encouragement vs. no parent encouragement on pre-reaching infants’ learning using SM. Holt (2016) found that infants in the active/no encouragement condition exhibited causal perception following SM experience, while infants in the other conditions, including the active/encouragement condition, did not. The present study is a secondary video analysis of Holt (2016), comparing infants’ visual attention and parents’ behaviors during the SM session in the active conditions. Given the findings of Holt (2016), we hypothesized that parent interactions have a negative effect on infant attention to objects during SM, which is necessary for infants’ learning. However, no difference was found between the two conditions for average bout duration on task or for proportion of clean attention. These findings suggest other aspects of parent interactions during SM might affect infants’ learning, which future research should investigate.

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