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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>