Eye tracking provides no evidence that young infants understand path obstruction

J. Gavin Bremner*, Alan Slater, Uschi Mason, Jo Spring, Alison Rees, Diana S.Y. Tham, Scott P. Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In two experiments with 47 4-month-olds, we investigated attention to key aspects of events in which an object moved along a partly occluded path that contained an obstruction. Infants were familiarized with a ball rolling behind an occluder to be revealed resting on an end wall, and on test trials an obstruction wall was placed in the ball's path. In Experiment 1, we did not find longer looking when the object appeared in an impossible location beyond the obstruction, and infants did not selectively fixate the object in this location. In Experiment 2, after rolling one or two balls, we measured infants' fixations of a two-object outcome with one ball in a novel but possible resting position and the other in a familiar but impossible location beyond the obstruction. Infants looked longer at the ball in the possible but novel location, likely reflecting a looking preference for location novelty. Thus we obtained no evidence that infants reasoned about obstruction and identified a violation on that basis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101659
Pages (from-to)101659
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Eye-tracking
  • Infant knowledge
  • Novelty preference
  • Object persistence
  • Object solidity
  • Path obstruction


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