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Title:The Use of Habituation to Investigate Basic Level and Superordinate Level Categorization in Cerebral Palsied Infants
Author(s):Mcdonough, Susan Cecilia
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Special
Abstract:Perceptual-cognitive development in cerebral palsied (CP) infants has been difficult to evaluate because of the infants' impaired motor ability. The present study overcame this difficulty by using a modified habituation paradigm. This procedure requires a minimum amount of movement from the infant, yet allows for indepedent assessments of Attention Getting, as measured by the infant's latency to turn and Attention Holding, as measured by fixation duration.
The study was designed to investigate basic-level and superordinate-level categorization in infants diagnosed as cerebral palsied. Specifically, the goal was to determine if 12 to 24-month old CP infants could acquire concepts representing both the basic level and the superordinate level of categorization, and if they could, at what ages were they able to accomplish these tasks.
Twenty-four CP and 24 normal infants, 12 at the youngest age, 12 to 18 months, and 12 at the oldest age, 19 to 24 months, were tested initially on the basic level task. Those older infants who successfully completed this task--that is, acquired a concept representing the basic level of categorization, i.e., stuffed animal, were scheduled for a second testing session within two weeks. At that time, the infant was tested on his ability to acquire a concept representing the superordinate level of categorization, i.e., toys. An additional control group of 12, 19 to 24 month old normal infants was tested on the superordinate level only.
The results of this study indicated that cerebral palsied infants and their matched controls between 19 and 24 months of age are capable of acquiring a concept representing the basic level of categorization. Although CP infants from 12 to 18 months were not as able to acquire a basic level concept, their matched controls were able to complete the task. Both older CP and normal infants who had successfully mastered the basic level concept task were not able to acquire a superordinate level concept two weeks later. An additional matched group of older normal infants who previously had not been tested on the basic level task, however, successfully completed the superordinate level task.
In this study, CP infants with varying degrees of motor dysfunction were successfully tested on their ability to form concepts representing the basic and superordinate levels of categorization. Although every CP infant did not master the task, that is, acquire the concepts, no CP infant was excluded from participating because of the severity of his handicap. In every instance, the experimenter was able to obtain a determination of an individual infant's capacity to form a concept as well as an indication of the infant's attention, memory, and discrimination abilities.
The Attention Getting and Attention Holding processes provided information on both the motoric and intellectual functioning of these infants. Regarding Attention Getting, the CP infants consistently experienced significantly longer latencies in turning to the slide than did their matched normal controls. This finding was pervasive throughout both experiments and across CP infants at both ages and classification types.
The findings obtained through the Attention Holding measures provided some new insights into the information-processing abilities of cerebral palsied infants. The results indicated that there were developmental differences in the cognitive performance of CP versus normal infants. Because these differences were obtained through an assessment procedure which virtually eliminated any requirement of motor competence, they appear to reflect the cognitive functioning of the CP infants independent of their motor impairments. The habituation procedure, which appears to assess perceptual-cognitive ability independent of motor functioning, is a technique which offers promise for applied benefits to the field of Special Education.
Issue Date:1981
Description:93 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203528
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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