Infants’ and children’s brains undergo a large amount of change throughout development. These changes lead to improvements in visual and cognitive abilities – such as visual functions and the ability to pay attention or encode events to memory. During this Brown Bag, I will present the developmental research I completed during my graduate studies, focusing on my Master’s thesis and PhD dissertation work.
For my Master’s thesis, I used the Visual Expectation Paradigm (Haith et al., 1988) to study memory in infants. Infants’ anticipatory eye movements were measured on 2 consecutive days. On day 1, infants were trained to form expectations and make anticipatory eye movements based on the predictable color and spatial location of visual stimuli. On day 2, they were presented with either the same stimuli, or different stimuli which varied by color or location. I will present the results and discuss how visual expectation processes are related to mechanisms of memory in infancy.
My PhD dissertation examined spatial attention-modulated surround suppression during development. In adults, previous research has demonstrated that a suppressive field is present surrounding a spatial location of attentional focus. This results from top-down attention promoting the processing of relevant stimuli and inhibiting surrounding distractors (Tsotsos, 1995; Hopf et al., 2006). The goal of my dissertation was to examine how this phenomenon manifests in children and adolescents. I will present data proposing that top-down attentional processes are likely still maturing until approximately 12 years of age.