This application focuses primarily on the formation of visual expectations in infants who range from 3 to 8 months of age. For the principal paradigm we use, eye movements and visual fixations are recorded while infants watch series of pictures that vary in predictability. Our recording method employs infrared corneal and retinal-reflection video of the infants' eyes, stored on videotape. Through analysis of the infants' eye movements, we draw inferences about whether a baby forms expectations for the pictures before they appear. Anticipatory fixations provide one index of these expectations. For those cases in which anticipations do not occur, facilitated reaction times to picture onsets provide a second index. The proposed experiments fall into four categories. First, we ask what types of physical event information infants are able to use to form expectations. Second, we explore psychological processes that constrain expectations and changes in these constraints with age. Third, we attempt to determine the cognitive skills infants use in the Visual Expectation Paradigm by comparing infants' performance in this paradigm with their performance in other paradigms. Finally, we examine expectation formation as an index of stable infant cognitive functioning by longitudinal infant and early childhood studies and by assessment of performance of infants at psychological risk due to fetal exposure to alcohol. The goal of these studies is twofold: 1) to establish a solid base of information about how infants begin to organize their behavior around future events, and 2) to exploit infants' natural tendency to form expectations about their world to identify specific cognitive processes that are responsible for stable intellectual functioning in early childhood.
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