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Infants learn to transfer knowledge by 16 months, study finds
Date:7/5/2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers have identified when an important milestone in infants' development occurs: the ability to transfer knowledge to new situations.

In a series of studies, the researchers found that 8-month-olds had trouble using newly acquired knowledge in a different circumstance, but 16-month-olds could do so.

"Some time between 8 and 16 months, infants begin learning how to learn," said Julie Hupp, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University's Newark campus.

"They begin to transfer their new knowledge and use it in a totally different situation, which is a very important step in development."

While many scientists had assumed that the ability to transfer knowledge was a product of infant development, no research had tested when that might occur, except for the case of word learning, Hupp said.

Hupp conducted the study with Vladimir Sloutsky, professor of psychology and human development and the director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State.

Their work appears online in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology and will be published in a future print edition.

How do scientists test infants' learning ability before children can follow instructions or, in some cases, even talk? In these experiments, the researchers observed whether the infants learned when to pay attention to images projected on a screen in front of them.

The researchers flashed symbols, such as squares, triangles and musical notes, in a repetitive series on a large screen in front of the children, who were sitting on one of their parent's laps.

Normally, infants will pay attention to the screen at first, when the experience is new, but will rapidly lose interest unless what they see on the screen changes, Hupp said. A video camera underneath the screen recorded the infants' reactions so that the researchers could record when the babies lo
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Contact: Julie Hupp
Hupp.34@osu.edu
740-366-9179
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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