Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows babies determine shapes, objects at early age

14.08.2003


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: tgw@psyc.tamu.edu
or Ryan A. Garcia, 979-845-4680 or via email: rag@univrel.tamu.edu.

Ryan A. Garcia | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu/

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular volume control

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

When fish swim in the holodeck

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>