Progress in Infancy Research, Volume 2, edited by Jeffrey W. Fagan & Harlene Hayne, Mahwah, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 288 pp., $79.95.
The editors of this book describe the purpose of this volume to present cutting edge research or research programs that challenge traditional thinking or provide information about new technologies or methods in the area of infant research. The volume has no particular area of focus and includes a number of topics that span the field of infant research. The first chapter is a reprint of a 1979 article by Lewis P. Lipsitt, one of the editors of Volume 1 in this series. As a first chapter in this unique volume, I was looking forward to an appraisal of current research and how it supports, challenges, or disagrees with Dr. Lipsitt's previous hypotheses about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant development. I was disappointed as the chapter was merely a reprint. This was clearly at odds with the editors' goal of the book and the depth of the following chapters.
The remaining chapters deliver much more than a summary of the topics presented. Each chapter presents a clear purpose followed by pertinent literature reviews. Each of the authors expands upon the previous research or challenge long-held notions about a particular area of development. The definitions of the concepts or skill being studied were clearly defined. The chapters include such varied topics as a challenge to prior studies on memory for hidden objects, a proposal of a connectionist computational model for the mechanisms involved in learning, and a new program of research that seeks to understand infant motor skill development by studying specific aspects of motor development such as transfer and flexibility. Other chapters present data, methods, and hypotheses about the development of spatial vision, autobiographical memory, and infant-directed versus adult-directed speech. The authors create a smooth flow of information from prior research and hypotheses to their own ideas about their particular area of study and defend their positions with current data.
Overall, this is a stimulating and provocative volume on a number of critical areas of infant development.
Amy Salisbury, Ph.D., R.N.
Brown Medical School
Women & Infants' Hospital
Infant Development Center
Providence, Rhode Island