Cross-Modal Transfer of Shape is Difficult to Demonstrate in One-Month-Olds
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We tested 1-month-olds for cross-modal transfer of shape between touch and vision using a procedure described by Meltzoff and Borton, but including controls for side bias and stimulus preference. In Experiment 1 (N = 48), infants' looking times to smooth and nubby visual stimuli were not influenced by previous oral exposure to one of the shapes during the preceding 90 s, except for an effect on the first test trial in one group; this effect could have been due to limited cross-modal transfer, to Type 1 error, or to side bias, possibly interacting with a small stimulus preference. The failure of that effect to replicate in a group (N = 16) with less side bias (Experiment 2) suggests that it was not due to cross-modal transfer. Experiment 3 (N = 32), an exact replication of Meltzoff and Borton's experiment, also failed to yield evidence of cross-modal transfer. Overall, there is not good evidence that 1-month-olds can transfer information about these shapes from touch to vision. Future studies exploring the ability to transfer information about other shapes will be easier to interpret if they include controls for side bias and stimulus preference.
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