Babys first look at the world is likely a dizzying array of shapes and motion that are meaningless to a newborn, but researchers at the University of Rochester have now shown that babies use relationships between objects to build an understanding of the world. By noting how often objects appear together, infants can efficiently take in more knowledge than if they were to simply see the same shapes individually, says the paper published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Roughly 100 babies, all about nine months of age, watched a series of shapes such as squares, circles, and arrows appearing together on a screen while researchers watched the babies attention. József Fiser postdoctoral fellow and Richard N. Aslin, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, wanted to see if the nine-month-olds would pay more attention to the pairs of shapes that occurred most often in a crowded scene.
"Its long been assumed that we use relationships among parts of scenes to learn which parts form whole objects, but the idea has never been tested, nor was it clear how early this ability develops," says Fiser. "This research shows that building a concept of the world by recognizing relationships among shapes in images is possibly innate, and a very essential ability in babies."
Jonathan Sherwood | EurekAlert!
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