Sensitivity to structure in action sequences : an infant event-related potential study

Monroy, Claire D. and Gerson, Sarah A. and Domínguez-Martínez, Estefanía and Kaduk, Katharina and Hunnius, Sabine and Reid, Vincent (2019) Sensitivity to structure in action sequences : an infant event-related potential study. Neuropsychologia, 126. pp. 92-101. ISSN 0028-3932

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Infants are sensitive to structure and patterns within continuous streams of sensory input. This sensitivity relies on statistical learning, the ability to detect predictable regularities in spatial and temporal sequences. Recent evidence has shown that infants can detect statistical regularities in action sequences they observe, but little is known about the neural process that give rise to this ability. In the current experiment, we combined electroencephalography (EEG) with eye-tracking to identify electrophysiological markers that indicate whether 8–11-month-old infants detect violations to learned regularities in action sequences, and to relate these markers to behavioral measures of anticipation during learning. In a learning phase, infants observed an actor performing a sequence featuring two deterministic pairs embedded within an otherwise random sequence. Thus, the first action of each pair was predictive of what would occur next. One of the pairs caused an action-effect, whereas the second did not. In a subsequent test phase, infants observed another sequence that included deviant pairs, violating the previously observed action pairs. Event-related potential (ERP) responses were analyzed and compared between the deviant and the original action pairs. Findings reveal that infants demonstrated a greater Negative central (Nc) ERP response to the deviant actions for the pair that caused the action-effect, which was consistent with their visual anticipations during the learning phase. Findings are discussed in terms of the neural and behavioral processes underlying perception and learning of structured action sequences.

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Journal Article
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuropsychologia. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Neuropsychologia, 126, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.05.007
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? statistical learninginfant event-related potentialsaction sequenceseye-trackingsocial-cognitive developmentcognitive neurosciencebehavioral neuroscienceexperimental and cognitive psychology ??
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15 May 2017 08:02
Last Modified:
18 Dec 2023 01:46