Multisensory exploration and object individuation in infancy

Dev Psychol. 2007 Mar;43(2):479-95. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.43.2.479.


Recent research indicates that by 4.5 months, infants use shape and size information as the basis for individuating objects but that it is not until 11.5 months that they use color information for this purpose. The present experiments investigated the extent to which infants' sensitivity to color information could be increased through select experiences. Five experiments were conducted with 10.5- and 9.5-month-olds. The results revealed that multimodal (visual and tactile), but not unimodal (visual only), exploration of the objects prior to the individuation task increased 10.5-month-olds' sensitivity to color differences. These results suggest that multisensory experience with objects facilitates infants' use of color information when individuating objects. In contrast, 9.5-month-olds did not benefit from the multisensory procedure; possible explanations for this finding are explored. Together, these results reveal how an everyday experience--combined visual and tactile exploration of objects--can promote infants' use of color information as the basis for individuating objects. More broadly, these results shed light on the nature of infants' object representations and the cognitive mechanisms that support infants' changing sensitivity to color differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Cognition*
  • Color Perception
  • Concept Formation
  • Exploratory Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male