Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Lowell Gaertner

Committee Members

James McNulty, Daniela Corbetta

Abstract

The current study revisits the causal link between finite cognitive capacity and infant perseveration originally put forth by Berger (2004) wherein perseverative errors resulted from a limited amount of cognitive resources. A dynamic systems perspective was used to test the interaction of a limited cognitive capacity and task difficulty by manipulating the contextual layout of Berger’s stair A-not-B paradigm (i.e. from 90-degrees to 180-degrees). Two groups of infants, differing in walking experience but not in biological age, were presented the task of descending A-side 5 consecutive times and to B-side on the 6th trial. Perseveration was not seen in either experience group; however, inexperienced walkers exhibited slower decision-making and stair descent on B-trial than their experienced counterparts. Results suggest that task difficulty alone is not enough to elicit perseveration but is a considerable factor when investigating the error.

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