Thesis Title

Effects of Pretraining on the Visual Discrimination Learning Performance of 3-Month-Old Infants

Date of Graduation

Summer 1995


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

D. Wayne Mitchell

Subject Categories



Research has indicated that infants who display shorter fixations to visual stimuli demonstrate more effective performances on visual task than infants who display longer fixations to visual stimuli. The purpose of this experiment was to study the effects of visual intervention upon the task performance of both short and long fixating 3-month-old infants. Initially, each infant was screened to determine whether his/her attending behavior could be characterized as long looking or short looking. Next, infants were randomly assigned to one of two experimental groups or a control gorup. The two experimental groups received two different types of visual pretraining prior to a visual discrimination learning task while the control group received no pretraining. One type of pretraining, familiarization training, involved the presentation of the most salient stimulus feature used in the experimental task. The second type of pretraining, contingency training, involved the presentation of a simplified visual discrimintion learning task using the least salient stimulus feature used in the experimental task. Finally, all infants participated in the experimental task, a visual discrimination learning task. Results indicated that both short and long looking contingency-trained and short looking familiarization-trained infants demonstrated effective task performance compared with the long looking familiarization-trained, and control infants. Results are discussed using the task familiarization and limited scanning hypotheses.


© Kelly Ann Carter