Evidence for sensory-selective set in young infants

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Science  13 May 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4598, pp. 742-744
DOI: 10.1126/science.6836312


The existence of low-level filtering of sensory input is a point of debate among cognitive theorists. This present study suggests that filtering by modality exists at levels low enough to modulate the brainstem blink reflex and that it is evident as early as the 16th week of life. During foreground listening or looking conditions, blinks elicited by acoustic or visual probes were larger when probe and foreground modality matched than when they mismatched. "Interesting" foregrounds, by comparison with "dull" ones, intensified the modality-selective effect.