Why do four- year- olds show poor cross-modal transfer between haptic and vision?


Four year olds have difficulty transferring information from the haptic to the visual modality. This difficulty may reflect qualitative differences in haptic and visual object representations or children’s inability to obtain the same kinds of perceptual information in the two modalities. Twenty 4-year-olds explored novel objects either haptically or visually, then haptically chose a match from among three test objects that each matched the exemplar on one perceptual dimension. Children chose shape-based matches after visually exploring category exemplars. However, after haptic exemplar exploration, children were equally likely to pick a shape- or texture-based match. Analysis of children’s hand movements during haptic exploration showed that certain movements reliably predicted shape-based matches. This finding suggests that children have difficulties in cross-modal transfer because their haptic exploration is not driven by a top-down perceptual focus as it is in adults.

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