Rethinking infant knowledge: toward an adaptive process account of successes and failures in object permanence tasks. Journal Article uri icon



  • 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.

publication date

  • October 1, 1997

has subject area

Full Author List

  • Munakata Y; McClelland JL; Johnson MH; Siegler RS

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 686

end page

  • 713


  • 104


  • 4