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Infants learn about objects from statistics and people

Wu, Rachel and Gopnik, A. and Richardson, D.C. and Kirkham, Natasha Z. (2011) Infants learn about objects from statistics and people. Developmental Psychology 47 (5), pp. 1220-1229. ISSN 0012-1649.

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Official URL: http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0024023

Abstract

In laboratory experiments, infants are sensitive to patterns of visual features that co-occur (e.g., Fiser & Aslin, 2002). Once infants learn the statistical regularities, however, what do they do with that knowledge? Moreover, which patterns do infants learn in the cluttered world outside of the laboratory? Across 4 experiments, we show that 9-month-olds use this sensitivity to make inferences about object properties. In Experiment 1, 9-month-old infants expected co-occurring visual features to remain fused (i.e., infants looked longer when co-occurring features split apart than when they stayed together). Forming such expectations can help identify integral object parts for object individuation, recognition, and categorization. In Experiment 2, we increased the task difficulty by presenting the test stimuli simultaneously with a different spatial layout from the familiarization trials to provide a more ecologically valid condition. Infants did not make similar inferences in this more distracting test condition. However, Experiment 3 showed that a social cue did allow inferences in this more difficult test condition, and Experiment 4 showed that social cues helped infants choose patterns among distractor patterns during learning as well as during test. These findings suggest that infants can use feature co-occurrence to learn about objects and that social cues shape such foundational learning in distraction-filled environments.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2011 13:45
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:21
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4370

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