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Innate and learned perceptual abilities in the newborn infant


 From research carried out over the last few years, it has become apparent that the visual world of the newborn baby (0–7 days from birth) is highly organised. It is also clear that the newborn infant is an extremely competent learner. These themes are illustrated with respect to two areas of research, face perception and intermodal learning. Evidence is presented suggesting that the human face is ”special” in that newborns respond to them as faces, rather than merely collections of stimulus elements. Additional evidence is presented which demonstrates that newborns can form auditory-visual associations after only a short exposure to the stimulation. These lines of evidence suggest that innate capacities, or modules, facilitate and direct early learning in order to allow newborn infants to understand their newly encountered world.

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Slater, A., Kirby, R. Innate and learned perceptual abilities in the newborn infant. Exp Brain Res 123, 90–94 (1998).

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  • Key words Innate perceptual abilities
  • Learned perceptual abilities
  • Newborn perceptual abilities