Sound effects: Multimodal input helps infants find displaced objects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Downloads (Pure)


Before 9 months, infants use sound to retrieve a stationary object hidden by darkness but not one hidden by occlusion, suggesting auditory input is more salient in the absence of visual input. This paper addresses how audiovisual input affects 10-month-olds’ search for displaced objects. In AB tasks, infants who previously retrieved an object at A subsequently fail to find it after it is displaced to B, especially following a delay between hiding and retrieval. Experiment 1 manipulated auditory input by keeping the hidden object audible versus silent, and visual input by presenting the delay in the light versus dark. Infants succeeded more at B with audible than silent objects and, unexpectedly, more after delays in the light than dark. Experiment 2 presented both the delay and search phases in darkness. The unexpected light-dark difference disappeared. Across experiments, the presence of auditory input helped infants find displaced objects, whereas the absence of visual input did not. Sound might help by strengthening object representation, reducing memory load, or focusing attention. This work provides new evidence on when bimodal input aids object processing, corroborates claims that audiovisual processing improves over the first year of life, and contributes to multisensory approaches to studying cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-333
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date21 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Cite this