Infants' Ability to Parse Continuous Actions

Susan J. Hespos*, Megan M. Saylor, Stacy R. Grossman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In a series of 3 experiments, the authors examined 6- and 8-month-old infants' capacities to detect target actions in a continuous action sequence. In Experiment 1, infants were habituated to 2 different target actions and subsequently were presented with 2 continuous action sequences that either included or did not include the familiar target actions. Infants looked significantly longer at the sequences that were novel. Experiment 2 presented the habituation and test trials in the reverse order. The results showed that infants habituated to the sequence still showed reliable evidence of recognizing the target action during the test trials. Experiment 3 was comparable to Experiment 2, except it tested whether infants could detect a different event segment, namely the transitions between events. The results showed that infants did not discriminate between test trials suggesting that transitions between events are not as easy for infants to recognize.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-585
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • action parsing
  • event segmentation
  • infant cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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