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We examined the development of visual cue integration in a desktop working-memory task using boxes with different visual action cues (opening actions) and perceptual surface cues (colours, monochromatic textures, or images of faces). Children had to recall which box held a hidden toy, based on (a) the action cue, (b) the surface cue, or (c) a conjunction of the two. Results from three experiments show a set of asymmetries in children's integration of action and surface cues. The 18-24-month-olds disregarded colour in conjunction judgements with action; 30-36-month-olds used colour but disregarded texture. Images of faces were not disregarded at either age. We suggest that 18-24-month-olds' disregard of colour, seen previously in reorientation tasks (Hermer & Spelke, 1994), may represent a general phenomenon, likened to uneven integration between the dorsal and ventral streams in early development.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Neuropsychol

Publication Date





968 - 984


Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Cognition, Cues, Discrimination Learning, Female, Humans, Infant, Judgment, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Neuropsychological Tests, Reminder Systems, Visual Pathways, Visual Perception