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    Playing hide and seek: contextual regularity learning develops between 3 and 5 years of age

    Serino, Giulia and Mareschal, Denis and Scerif, G. and Kirkham, Natasha Z. (2024) Playing hide and seek: contextual regularity learning develops between 3 and 5 years of age. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 238 (105795), ISSN 0022-0965.

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    The ability to acquire contextual regularities is fundamental in everyday life as it helps us navigate the environment, directing our attention where relevant events are more likely to occur. Sensitivity to spatial regularities has been largely reported from infancy. Nevertheless, it is presently unclear when children can use this rapidly acquired contextual knowledge to guide their behaviour. Evidence of this ability is indeed mixed in school-aged children and, to date, it has never been explored in younger children and toddlers. The present study investigates the development of contextual regularity learning in children between 3 and 5 years of age. To this aim, we designed a new contextual learning paradigm in which young children were presented with recurring configurations of bushes and were asked to guess behind which bush a cartoon monkey was hiding. In a series of two experiments, we manipulated the relevance of colour and visuo-spatial cues for the underlying task goal and we tested how this impacted young children’s behaviour. Our results bridge the gap between the infant and the adult literature, showing that sensitivity to spatial configurations persists from infancy to childhood, but it is only around the 5th year of age that children naturally start to integrate multiple cues to guide their behaviour.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Contextual regularity learning, memory-guided attention, young-children
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2023 11:38
    Last Modified: 26 Oct 2023 05:12


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