Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How Red Apples Mark a Cognitive Leap Forward

18.07.2006
Children aged about four suddenly become capable of recognising that an object can be described differently depending on how it is viewed. This apparently simple skill requires cognitive changes that are not far enough advanced until then. A project carried out by the Department of Psychology at the University of Salzburg with support from the Austrian Science Fund FWF reached this finding. The research could also contribute to an improved understanding of developmental disorders such as autism and attention impairment.
Children aged under four are good at classifying objects, meaning that they can cope with a complex world. They effortlessly sort objects such as red apples by colour or shape. However once it has been described as an apple, the classification seems to be final. It is neither necessary nor possible to see it as red. Understanding that an object can be two things at the same time calls for a major cognitive leap forward.

RED but not APPLE

Research by a team led by Dr. Daniela Kloo and Prof. Josef Perner at the Department of Psychology at the University of Salzburg has shown that this developmental jump takes place at about four years of age. As Dr. Kloo was able to determine through experiments with playing cards, beyond this age children are able to describe an object in more than one way, for instance as an apple and a red object.

The question for Dr. Kloo was whether younger children are at all capable of discriminating between simultaneously perceived object properties. The answer: "By making a simple change to the experimental situation we were able to show that three-year-olds do actually use the categories red and apple at the same time - but only if the two attributes do not belong to the same object. When we used cards with, for instance, a red circle or a colourless apple, the three-year-olds were able to sort the red circle by colour and the apple by shape. This provided us with an elegant proof that children in this age group are capable of discriminating between sets, but that object-set-shifting is difficult for them."

Dividing attributes into two objects does not have the same effect on adults. It does not make sorting much easier for them - evidence that this form of cognitive activity has become fundamentally different by adulthood.

Obstacle for Adults

However other research has already demonstrated that changing existing ways of viewing objects always demands a cognitive effort. Adult experimental subjects were required to alternate between sorting, say, red apples by colour or shape. They made scarcely any errors, but reacted more slowly whenever the sorting criterion was switched. "It appears that a set shift is always a big obstacle for our cognitive system. We get better with practice, but it always takes an effort", Dr. Kloo explained.

In Dr. Kloo’s opinion the results indicate that the conditions for forms of behaviour such as empathy, respect and tolerance are created at about the age of four. The insights gained with the help of FWF research money thus not only shed new light on the neuropsychological changes that occur during human development but also point to potential treatments for developmental disorders such as autism and attention impairment.

Till C. Jelitto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fwf.ac.at/en/public_relations/press/pv200607-en.html

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht The Maturation Pattern of the Hippocampus Drives Human Memory Deve
23.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Cebit 2018: Saarbrücken Start-up combines Tinkering and Programming for Elementary School Kids
05.06.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>