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The development of beacon use for spatial orientation in 6-8.5-month-old infants.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date01/2000
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Number of pages19
Original languageEnglish


The overall aim of this research was to establish the youngest age at which use of beacons to aid spatial orientation could be demonstrated. Six- and 8.5-month-old infants were tested in a peekaboo paradigm in which they had to turn to a target location, either after displacement to a novel position and orientation (Study 1), or to a novel orientation only (Study 2). A beacon condition where there was a colourful landmark at the peekaboo location was contrasted with a non-beacon condition at each age. The 8.5-month-olds showed robust but modest gains in performance in the presence of a beacon, whereas the 6-month-old infants did not. A further study (Study 3) confirmed that performance was poor at 8.5 months in the absence of a beacon, even when displacements between training and test positions involved rotations only. This finding is contrary to that reported in earlier literature (Tyler and McKenzie, 1990). The possibility that onset of crawling (at a mean age of 8.5 months) could be linked both to the development of allocentric and egocentric spatial coding is left open by the relatively later age of competence found in the present series of studies.