Infants' sensitivity to effects of gravity on visible object motion

A preference method probed infants` perception of object motion on an inclined plane. Infants viewed videotaped events in which a ball rolled downward (or upward) while speeding up (or slowing down). Then infants were tested with events in which the ball moved in the opposite direction with appropriate or inappropriate acceleration. Infants aged 7 months, but not 5 months, looked longer at the test event with inappropriate acceleration, suggesting emerging sensitivity to gravity. A further study tested whether infants appreciate that a stationary object released on an incline moves downward rather than upward; findings again were positive at 7 months and negative at 5 months. A final study provided evidence, nevertheless, that 5-monthold infants discriminate downward from upward motion and relate downward motion in videotaped events to downward motion in live events. Sensitivity to certain effects of gravity appears to develop in infancy.
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