- Infants seem sensitive to hidden objects in habituation tasks at 3.5 months but fail to retrieve hidden objects until 8 months. The authors first consider principle-based accounts of these successes and failures, in which early successes imply knowledge of principles and failures are attributed to ancillary deficits. One account is that infants younger than 8 months have the object permanence principle but lack means-ends abilities. To test this, 7-month-olds were trained on means-ends behaviors and were tested on retrieval of visible and occluded toys. Means-ends demands were the same, yet infants made more toy-guided retrievals in the visible case. The authors offer an adaptive process account in which knowledge is graded and embedded in specific behavioral processes. Simulation models that learn gradually to represent occluded objects show how this approach can account for success and failure in object permanence tasks without assuming principles and ancillary deficits.