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    Communicative function demonstration induces kind-based artifact representation in preverbal infants

    Futo, J. and Teglas, E. and Csibra, Gergely and Gergely, G. (2010) Communicative function demonstration induces kind-based artifact representation in preverbal infants. Cognition 117 , pp. 1-8. ISSN 0010-0277.

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    Abstract

    Human infants grow up in environments populated by artifacts. In order to acquire knowledge about different kinds of human-made objects, children have to be able to focus on the information that is most relevant for sorting artifacts into categories. Traditional theories emphasize the role of superficial, perceptual features in object categorization. In the case of artifacts, however, it is possible that abstract, non-obvious properties, like functions, may form the basis of artifact kind representations from an early age. Using an object individuation paradigm we addressed the question whether non-verbal communicative demonstration of the functional use of artifacts makes young infants represent such objects in terms of their kinds. When two different functions were sequentially demonstrated on two novel objects as they emerged one-by-one from behind a screen, 10-month-old infants inferred the presence of two objects behind the occluder. We further show that both the presence of communicative signals and causal intervention are necessary for 10-month-olds to generate such a numerical expectation. We also found that communicative demonstration of two different functions of a single artifact generated the illusion of the presence of two objects. This suggests that information on artifact function was used as an indicator of kind membership, and infants expected one specific function to define one specific artifact kind. Thus, contrary to previous accounts, preverbal infants’ specific sensitivity to object function underlies, guides, and supports their learning about artifacts.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): infancy, object individuation, artifact function
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 08:33
    Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 11:12
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/11962

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