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Infants, children prefer sounds over pictures and only slowly become visually oriented, studies find

ctures. But when they were presented with familiar pictures and unfamiliar sounds, children paid more attention to the pictures.

"More familiar stimuli are likely to overshadow those stimuli that children don't have experience with," he said.

The research showed that the relative complexity of the visuals did not play a role in whether children paid more attention to them or not familiarity was the important factor.

The pull of sounds over visuals can be powerful, Sloutsky said. In one experiment, the 4-year-olds were shown a picture of a geometric shape paired with a sound and asked to remember it. The researchers told the children explicitly to pay attention to the shape: "Don't forget, you have to remember the picture!"

They were then shown a second shape-sound combination and asked if it was the same as the first. Results showed that the children were not accurate in pointing out new shapes if they were paired with the familiar sounds. They were much more accurate at noticing new sounds.

Other experiments showed that the children could accurately tell when the shapes were changed, if the visuals were presented alone. This means they have no problem finding differences in visuals. It is only when visuals are competing with sounds that children no longer pay as much attention to the visuals.

"This suggests that children are automatically drawn to sounds over visuals," Sloutsky said. "It is not something they can control."


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Contact: Vladimir Sloutsky
Sloutsky.1@osu.edu
614-292-7594
Ohio State University
16-Dec-2004


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