Ostensive Cues Orient 10-Month-Olds’ Attention toward the Task But Delay Learning


The aim of this study is to investigate how ostensive cues modify infants’ visual attention to task demonstration, and the extent to which this enhances the performance in an imitative learning task. We hypothesized that ostensive cues would help orient infants’ attention toward relevant parts of the demonstration. We investigated the looking behavior of 41 10-month-old infants while observing an adult demonstrating a novel target action after having either provided ostensive cues or not. Infants’ looking behavior was measured using an eye tracker. Two areas of interest were analyzed: the targeted object and the adult’s face. Infants’ performance after demonstration was also analyzed. The results show that infants’ looking behavior varied across groups. When ostensive cues were not provided, infants looked mainly at the experimenter’s face. However, when ostensive cues were provided, infants oriented their attention toward the targeted object. These results suggest that ostensive cues help infants orient their attention toward task-relevant parts of the scene. Surprisingly, infants in the non-ostensive group improved their performance faster after demonstration than infants in the ostensive group. These results are discussed in terms of a video effect and dissociation between separate cognitive systems for social and non-social cognition.

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Esseily, R. & Fagard, J. (2013). Ostensive Cues Orient 10-Month-Olds’ Attention toward the Task But Delay Learning. Psychology, 4, 20-25. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.47A003.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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