Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study shows babies determine shapes, objects at early age


They might not normally merit a second glance, but those everyday objects around the house are constantly undergoing intense scrutiny, categorization and classification by babies trying to make sense of a world only months new to them.

There is a lot going on in the heads of babies - probably more than most people think, says Texas A&M University psychologist Teresa Wilcox, who studies the way babies think about and interact with their physical world. She’s examining how and when babies begin learning about objects they encounter.

According to her research, there’s a clear hierarchy in the kinds of information babies use to "individuate" objects. Object individuation, she says, refers to a baby’s ability to recognize an object based on a mental picture the baby forms using the object’s characteristics and features. As babies build these mental pictures, they tend to pay attention to certain features more than others, depending on the age of the baby.

"Individuation is important in learning," Wilcox explains, "because it allows us to make predictions about an object based on past interactions with that object. How babies individuate objects tells us a lot about how they perceive their world. If they don’t individuate objects, that means every experience with an object is a new experience."

In order to recognize an object, Wilcox says babies, like the rest of us, rely on a mental representation of that object. At 4.5 months, babies pay particular attention to features like shape and size, but they don’t individuate objects, she says.

By 5.5 months, they begin to individuate objects, but they don’t bind specific features to those objects, she notes. This occurrence, she explains, is similar to the way a person passes a wreck while driving and sometimes can recall the number of automobiles involved but not the color and models of those automobiles.

Though they first show the ability to start individuating objects at 5.5 months, babies don’t bind specific features to objects until 7.5 months, Wilcox explains. At this time, they also begin using patterns in their mental representations of objects, and at 11.5 months, color becomes important to them in this process.

Up to this point, she explains, color is a part of a baby’s world, but a baby doesn’t use it to draw conclusions about whether the object in front of him or her is the same object or a different object.

"It’s very intriguing," Wilcox says, "because babies can distinguish between colors. They can discriminate against colors and categorize colors - they use color, but they don’t use it to individuate objects."

Wilcox believes that this information hierarchy is related to an information processing bias that’s innate in babies. She says form features, like shape and size are deeply embedded in the physical world and that they are important for making judgments about the outcome of physical events. Babies, she notes, draw on these early in life to keep track of the identity of objects.

On the other hand, surface features like color and pattern are not thought of as being stable, enduring properties and aren’t as important for reasoning out physical events, she says.

"Babies tend not to attach these sorts of features to objects early in their development, and it may have to with the fact that form features are just not as important for reasoning out the physical world," Wilcox says. "So an object’s color, its pattern or its luminance doesn’t have that much bearing on whether the object can fit into a container, whether it can be supported on a ledge without falling or whether it can become occluded or not."

Contact: Teresa Wilcox, 979-0845-0618 or via email:
or Ryan A. Garcia, 979-845-4680 or via email:

Ryan A. Garcia | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>