Analogical Abstraction in Three-Month-Olds

Abstract

This research tests whether analogical processing ability is present in 3-month-old infants. Infants are habituated to a series of analogous pairs, instantiating either same (e.g., AA, BB) or different (e.g., AB, CD), then tested with further exemplars of the relations. If they can distinguish the familiar relation from the novel relation, even with new objects, this is evidence for analogical abstraction across the pairs. In Experiment 1, we did not find evidence of analogical abstraction when 3-month-olds habituated to six pairs instantiating the relation. However, in Experiment 2, infants showed evidence of analogical abstraction after habituation to two alternating pairs (e.g., AA, BB, AA, BB…). As with older groups, rendering individual objects salient disrupted relational learning. These results demonstrate that 3-month-old infants are capable of analogical comparison and abstraction. Our findings also place limits on the conditions under which these processes occur. We discuss implications for theories of relational learning.


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