Topics in infant cognition:
Object permanence and the
A_not_B error
Messinger
*What is cognition?


Cognition refers to mental abilities (thinking,
memory, problem-solving, categorization,
reasoning, language development, etc.)
Four major approaches to understanding cognition
in infancy:
–
–
–
–
Piagetian approach (sensorimotor stage)
Nativist approach
Information processing approach
Psychometric approach
Bell
2
Fundamental question:
What do infants know?

Infants have innate knowledge of essential
properties of world
–
Nativist account: the mind produces ideas that are not
derived from external sources


Infants have an innate conception of what objects are
Infants must construct knowledge of essential
properties of world
–
Constructivist account or empiricist account:
experience, especially of the senses, is the only source
of knowledge.
5
3 examples
Preference for faces
 Infant counting
 Object permanence

6
Preference for Faces?
Innate or constructed?

Fantz, 1961 original study of face preference.
–


Wilcox, 1969: better “equated” stimuli produced
face preference by 4-5 months.
Debate continues –
–

Demonstrated preference, but confounding explanations
moving face picture, has shown preference for human
face in newborns (Maurer & Young, 1983).
Turati vs. Simion?
•
http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/users/alisonp/dev1/lecture2.htm
l
7
Can infants count?
“Humans
innately possess the capacity to perform
simple arithmetical calculations......... Infants
possess true numerical concepts: they have access to
the ordering of numerical relationships between
small numbers. They can calculate the results of
simple arithmetical operations of small numbers of
items” Wynn (1992).
•
Next 3 slides from Tony J. Simon
“Explaining Apparent Infant Numerical
Competence in Terms of Object
Representation”
Initial transf ormation
The Task
Test trial outcomes
Possible
Arithmetically Impossible ( Wynn)
(+)
More looking to impossible results
13
Looking time
12
1+1=1
11
2-1=2
10
9
8
1+1=2
2-1=1
7
6
1 object
2 objects
Simon et al. (1995)
Number of Objects Remaining
Replication of Wynn (1992)
Piaget and object constancy





What are assimilation and accomodation? How does Piaget
believe that infants develop cognitively?
– Provide examples from video
What does Piaget think about the development of object
constancy and the A-not-B error?
What do Baillargeon's experiments say about object
constancy?
What might account for differences increased attention to
violations of expectations regarding invisible objects but
their deficits in reaching for those objects?
– Provide examples from video
– Do you think infants can count?
How is mental functioning assessed in infancy?
11
Class

Piaget’s theory of infant cognitive
development
–
–

Habituation paradigms
–

Object constancy and the a_not_b error
A not B videos, NIH floor babies
Early evidence for object constancy
Resolution
12
Piaget with child
Piaget
overview:
http://www.yo
utube.com/wa
tch?v=4kscU0
kTNbw
13
Piaget’s History
Swiss, 1896 - 1980
 First published scientific paper at age 10
 Doctorate in biology at age 22
 Most influential developmental
psychologist ever?

•
"Piaget, Jean," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia
2000. http://encarta.msn.com ©
14
Piaget’s insights

Children don't think like grownups.

Children are not empty vessels to be filled with
knowledge
–

as traditional pedagogical theory had it
They are active builders of knowledge
–
little scientists who are constantly creating and testing
their own theories of the world.
•
http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/piaget.html
15
Piaget Overview
The development of knowledge takes place
as a result of an individual’s interaction
with his or her environment.
 Children themselves drive cognitive
development by actively manipulating
and exploring their environment.

16
*Piagetian Approach

Four broad themes:
–
–
–
–

Object
Space
Time
Causality
Principal goal to explain objectification
–
–
The knowledge of the self and external objects as
distinct and separate entities, persisting across time and
space, and following causal rules
Major cognitive achievement during first 2 years
19
Piaget’s concepts
stage theory,
 schema,
 organization,
 adaptation,

–

assimilation, accommodation,
equilibrium, disequilibrium
20
Schema
Unobservable mental systems underlying
intelligent behavior.
 Schema change over development.
 Initially, schema are action-based motor
patterns

–
After infancy, they move to a mental level.
21
Adaptation

Assimilation:
–
Events in the external world are incorporated into
existing schema.



An infant who sucks on a bottle can adjust to a pacifier with
slight modifications.
Peg goes into pre-existing hole
Accommodation:
–
Schema are adjusted or created to produce a better fit
with events.


An infant who sucks on a bottle and pacifier must
accommodate in order to learn to drink from a cup.
Make or find a new whole
23
Equilibrium

Equilibrium – schema working fine
–
–
–
A steady, comfortable cognitive stage.
Assimilation prevails.
Infants are able to incorporate environmental
experiences into their existing schema.
24
Disequilibrium

Disequilibrium – schema don’t work, failure
–

Children are unable to incorporate environmental
experiences with their existing schema, and are
forced to adjust their old schema or create new
ones.
–

accommodation prevails.
cognitive change
Disequilibrium is how one moves between stages
and substages
25
Piaget’s stage theory

During different stages of cognitive
development, children have qualitatively
different ways of understanding the external
world.
26
Piaget’s Stages
1. Sensorimotor stage (circular reaction, object permanence,
goal-directed behavior, AB search error)
2. Preoperational stage
3. Concrete operational stage
4. Formal operational stage
27
*Sensorimotor stage
Birth to 2 years
 Intelligence is limited to the infant’s actions
on the environment.
 Cognition is doing.
 Has 6 substages

28
Sensorimotor stage
Infants “think” with their bodies - eyes,
ears, hands, and mouth.
 Vast changes in the way infants act on the
environment during the first two years of
life.
 Cognition progresses from the exercise of
reflexes to the beginnings of symbolic
functioning.

29
From

Circular reactions
–
in which the infant tries to repeat an event over
and over again
to

Object permanence
–
the understanding that objects continue to exist
when they are out of sight.
30
Sensorimotor sub-stages
1.
2.
3.
4.
Reflexive schema
Primary circular reactions
Secondary circular reactions
Coordination of secondary circular
reactions
5. Tertiary circular reactions
6. Mental representation
31
*Reflexive schema
Birth to 1 month
 Infant adjusts reflexive behavior in response
to different stimuli
 Reflexes are building blocks of
sensorimotor development.

–
Transition to more voluntary activity
Example: Sucking, grasping.
 Video?

32
*Primary circular reactions



Primary = self
Scheme that is repeated because it is interesting
and provides opportunity to explore world
Simple motor habits centered around the infant’s
own body.
–
–
–

Action and perception joined
sucking fist, watching hand open and close.
More voluntary
1-4 months
33
*Secondary circular reactions



Secondary = self + object
Activation of schemes resulting in a specific
desired outcome
Actions aimed at repeating interesting effects in
the surrounding world.
–
–
intentionally hitting a mobile.
Actions with objects enabled by motor developments:


sitting up, reaching, grasping.
4-8 months
–
Rob0006 video
34
*Coordination of secondary
circular reactions


Means-end behavior
Coordination of secondary circular reactions into
new and more complex action sequences.
–
–

Intentional, goal-directed behavior begins.
–

Moving aside an obstacle in order to retrieve a visible
object.
Combines swiping with reaching-grasping.
Prior to this stage, actions that led to new schema first
occurred by chance. Now infants have mastered
enough schema to solve problems deliberately.
8-12 months
35
*Tertiary circular reactions




Tertiary = repetition of action with variation
Two or more schema are combined to produce
novelty and exploration (e.g., trial and error)
Infants are no longer limited to previously
mastered schema.
They are now able to alter prior schema to suit a
particular situation.
–

Using trial-and-error to retrieve a toy with a stick.
12-18 months
–
video
36
Mental representation

Infants create internal images of absent
objects and past events.
–
–

Insightfully knowing to use a stick to retrieve
an object
Two-word sentences; symbolic play.
18 months to 2 years
 Object
permanence
37
*Development of spatial and
object concepts


Newborns: infants exhibit recognition memory, but more
passive (Stage 1 and 2)
Starting at 4 mos (Stage 3):
–
–
–
–
–
Visual accommodation of rapid movements (looking down when
something falls)
Interrupted prehension (attempt to re-acquire object dropped)
Deferred circular reactions (resuming gestures of object oriented
play after being interrupted)
Reconstruction of an invisible whole from a visible fraction (child
retrieves an object from a cover when part of object is visible)
Removal of obstacles preventing perception (pulling cover away
from face during peekaboo or retrieving a fully hidden toy from
cover)
Bell
38
Object permanence
Knowledge that objects exist, independent
of our perception of them
 Piaget suggests that until 18 months of age
appearances and disappearance of an object
are not taken as the same object.
 Out of sight, out of mind

–
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwXd7WyWNHY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFUInSY2CeY&feature=related

39
*A not B error - 8 to 12 months



Stage 4
“Infant watches an experimenter hide a toy behind/under a
cover (the A location).
After a few seconds, the infant is allowed to search
–
–


and usually does so correctly.
This trial is repeated once or twice more.
The experimenter then hides the toy behind/under a
second cover (the B location).
When the infant is allowed to reach, the infant reaches to
location A –
–
not to B where the object just disappeared but to A, the
place where the infant last found the object.”
•
http://www.cs.indiana.edu/hyplan/gasser/C463_4/smith.txt
40
*Criticisms of Piagetian
Approach
Questionable whether cognitive
development is as heavily dependent on
manual experience
 Is infant cognition purely sensorimotor?
 Questioned idea that early concepts of
objects and people are subjective

Bell
41
New research



Sometimes shows that infants display certain
cognitive capacities earlier than Piaget believed.
Sometimes these studies use research techniques
that have been developed since Piaget’s time (e.g.,
habituation-dishabituation).
Although preliminary forms of some cognitive
abilities appear before Piaget theorized, his substages accurately mark the full-blown achievement
of these milestones.
42
Methods
Piaget watched infants in naturalistic
environments
 Modern cognitive research often uses
constrained settings and techniques to bring
early abilities to the spotlight

43
*Nativist Approach

Some kinds of knowledge are innate
–
–
–

Evidence of object knowledge can be observed in very
young infants
Infants’ detection of violations of physical constraints
arise from experience with contrastive evidence (must
be innate)
Evidence from nonhuman animals and anatomical
specialization in humans for cognitive function across
species
Innate social knowledge (imitation)
Bell
44
*Information-processing
approach

Presence of primitive mechanisms throughout
development:
–


Sensory, perceptual, and cognitive processes
Knowledge is constructed through these processes
over time and through learning
Example – development of causality perception
–
Causality is constructed from a combination of
perceptual sensitivities, memory, and experience

Robotics
Bell
45
*Psychometric approach

Measuring individual differences
throughout development:
–
–
Do scores on the Bayley predict later IQ?
What about habitation/dishabituation?
Bell
46
Practical uses of habituation
methods


If you show an infant one visual pattern until the
infant habituates, then show a slightly different
pattern and observe dishabituation, you know that
the infant can perceive the difference between the
two patterns.
A failure to dishabituate would mean that the
infant did not perceive the difference between the
two patterns.
47
Habituation suggests some
knowledge of invisible objects


Another test of object
permanence
Drawbridge
experiment
–

Baillargeon internal video
– http://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=u2ovHFt5YXc&f
eature=related
4.5, 5.5, and most 3.5
month olds look longer
at impossible event,
suggesting they believe
the “object” “behind”
the drawbridge should
really be there.

Baillargeon et al. (1985)
48
Does baby know where object is?

Object search (A_not_B) says no
–
Baby searches in first location


Drawbridge experiment says yes
–

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZDtfnRB-jI&feature=related
Infants look longer at impossible event
How can this be?
49
Task analysis

Search task asks for motor action
–

Recall memory
Drawbridge task asks for longer looking
–
Recognition memory
50
Experimental resolution

What about a non-search A_not_B task?
–

an A_not_B task?
Infants look longer at the impossible event
–
Look longer at A
 Even

after 15 seconds of delay
Even when they search in the wrong place
–
–
either infants have knowledge but can’t use it
or the knowledge does not exist in usable form
51
Put yourself in infant’s place
–
–
–
–
Where do you look for your car keys?
The more times the object was hidden at A, the
more the infant is likely to search incorrectly at
A
The longer the delay, the more likely the infant
is to search B
Error may relate to a strongly formed motor
pattern
52
Inhibition
To perform correctly, infants must inhibit a
prepotent response
 Lesions to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in
monkeys cause iterative A-like search errors
 Prefrontal cortex maturation in first year
may lead to increasingly successful
performance at A-not-B task

53
Natural Pedagogy
Gergely Csibra and Gyorgy Gergely
•
We use specific, episodic information to form
generalized knowledge
Human communication is specifically
adapted to fulfill the function of
transmitting generic knowledge
 Natural Pedagogy

–
The specific aspects of human communication
that allow and facilitate transfer of generic
knowledge
Nayfeld
Evidence for natural pedagogy


Infants display receptivity to ostensive communication before they show evidence of learning
1. Preferential attention for sources of signals
–
–
–

Preference for faces with direct gaze
4-mo infants interpret dyadic eye-gaze as communication
Preference for “motherese” and “motionese”
2. Referential Expectation
–
Gaze-following as communication

–

Only follow gaze-shifts when preceded by eye-contact or greeting
Expectation to find referent/object when follow gaze
3. Interpretation bias for generalizability
–
Expectation to learn something generalizable

Emotions towards object as information about the object
–
–
Permanent v. transient features


Attend to features that allows identification of other objects of same kind
Neglect information about location (transient)
–
–
When communicated ostensively
When communicated ostensively
A-not-B task

Error due to expectation of generalizable information
Nayfeld
Ostensive signals  Gaze following
56
Ostensive signal  Encode object identity
57
A-not-B caused by ostensive signaling?

Not in this case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhHkJ3InQOE&feature=related
58
Uniquely human?
‘Seven long-tailed macaques cleaning the
spaces between their teeth in the same
manner as humans.
 They spent double the amount of time
flossing when they were being watched by
their infants.’
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asiapacific/7940052.stm

59
Resources
Six psychological studies, Piaget
 The origins of intelligence in children,
Piaget
 Rovee-Collier
 Baillargeon
 Ahmed & Ruffman

60
Download

Health, Nutrition and Feeding