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Infant development has rarely been informed by the behavior of infants with sensory differences despite increasing recognition that infant behavior itself creates sensory learning opportunities. The purpose of this study of object exploration was to compare the behavior of hearing and deaf infants, with and without cochlear implants, in order to identify the effects of profound sensorineural hearing loss on infant exploration before cochlear implantation, the behavioral effects of access to auditory feedback after cochlear implantation, and the sensory motivation for exploration behaviors performed by hearing infants as well. The results showed that 9-month-old deaf infants explored objects as often as hearing infants but they used systematically different approaches and less variation before compared to after cochlear implantation. Potential associations between these early experiences and later learning are discussed in the context of embodied developmental theory, comparative studies, and research with adults. The data call for increased recognition of the active sensorimotor nature of infant learning and future research that investigates differences in sensorimotor experience as potential mechanisms in later learning and sequential memory development.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Infancy, volume 24, issue 3, in 2019 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS)



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