Multiple Learning Mechanisms in the Development of Action

Karen E. Adolph, Amy S. Joh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter illustrates how the study of goal-directed motor actions may provide new insights into the processes and mechanisms of infant learning. It identifies two learning mechanisms that are important for the development of balance and locomotion: learning sets and association learning. Learning sets is especially suited for coping with the variability and novelty that characterize everyday actions. Learning sets are optimal for promoting transfer of learning to particular cues with consequences. Unlike learning sets, association learning is not optimal; dealing with novelty and variability because transfer of learning is limited to a narrow range of problems that shares similar cues and contexts. Given its limitations, association learning may serve as a fallback mechanism when learning sets are not viable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLearning and the Infant Mind
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199894246
ISBN (Print)9780195301151
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Association learning
  • Balance
  • Infant learning
  • Infants
  • Learning sets
  • Locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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